HOUSTON – When the curtain was separated from College Station, Texas, revealing a two-tone blue locomotive nearly 16 feet tall bearing number 4141 in his honor, former President George HW Bush looked around. he enthusiastically, his face turning into a smile. One word left his lips: Wow. Thirteen years later, this same Union Pacific locomotive will escort the 41st President to his last home at College Station on Thursday afternoon after the funeral in Washington and Houston. The train carrying its remains will leave a Union Pacific Railroad facility in Spring, a community north of Houston, and travel 70 kilometers to College Station. Bush will be buried there, alongside his wife and daughter, on the site of his presidential library at Texas A & M University. The locomotive, painted in the same blue colors as the one that adorned Air Force One during Bush's presidency, was unveiled by the company in October 2005. At the time, fascinated by the mechanics of the train, he asked he could run it, according to Mike Iden, retired general manager of Automotive Engineering and Union Pacific locomotives. After a brief training and under the supervision of an engineer, "the former president drove the locomotive for a distance of about two miles," Iden said. An article from the Associated Press at the time said the unveiling had awakened Bush's memories of his childhood travels with his family. "We have always taken the railways, and I have never forgotten it," Bush told AFP. In previous centuries, many presidents incorporated trains into their funeral procedures. The body of Abraham Lincoln – along with that of his son Willie, who died three years earlier – was transported by train to more than 1,600 km from Washington to Springfield, Illinois. The portrait of the killed leader was stuck to the front of the engine during the trip. The remains of Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt also took their last trip by train. The last of these processions, for Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, involved a specially prepared luggage van. The train crossed seven states – Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri – before reaching its final destination in Kansas. "This is an opportunity for a broad band of people to pay tribute to someone who has done so much for our country," said Scott Moore, senior vice president of Union Pacific, in a statement. release on Saturday about plans for Bush's funeral. the week. "Having a train like this one pulled by a locomotive specifically for this man is really unprecedented." The road from Spring to College Station will run through several cities, including Hufsmith, Pinehurst, Magnolia and Navasota. Hufsmith is hardly a point on the map these days. As the Texas State Historical Association pointed out: "In the 1980s, there was only a cemetery, an abandoned railway station and scattered dwellings." But two miles away, the mayor of Tomball fondly remembers Bush's visit on the occasion of the city's centennial celebration in 2007. the first time a president, past or present, was there, according to news reports from ;time. "He went out and we gave him a key to the city. He actually kissed me on the cheek, "said Mayor Gretchen Fagan. "My mother-in-law said that she had gone home and that messages on her voicemail were saying," Oh my God, the President of the United States has just embraced your beauty- ! girl & # 39; " Bush took pictures with people for more than an hour after the event. "It was a pleasure," recalls Fagan. "The people of Tomball were so excited." Mayor of Navasota, Bert Miller, said it was not sure Bush had ever visited the city, but he recalls that he had campaigned for him in 1980. "I remember, with my grandfather, the politics of the return. when he was vice president with the president [Ronald] Reagan, "Miller said Saturday. "I was very young at the time." Navasota is about 20 miles from Bush's Presidential Library at Texas A & M, where Miller has been "several times". Visiting the library is one of the "things to do" of Visit Navasota. website. The former president was a regular at the Texas A & M campus since opening his library in 1997. According to his website, he had occasionally attended classes at the Bush School of Government and Public Service and had even been seen at the recreation center of good health. By car, the commute between Houston and College Station usually takes 90 minutes, but the schedule announced for the 4141 locomotive will be twice as long. The university announced Saturday that the president's coffin would be unloaded at a railway stop near the campus. The funeral procession will then travel to George Bush Drive, with a brief arrival ceremony followed by a private burial. The campus will be closed Thursday. At the unveiling of the locomotive in 2005, Bush poked his head out the window and waved the familiar sign of Texas A & M's' gig'em: a boost. .