Pere Marquette 1225
Polar express wide-436789dc875beb1e6aeb239664dd08f822233004-s900-c85
Number 1225
Class N-1
Builder Lima Locomotive Works
Built date October 1941
Configuaration 2-8-4
Top speed 70 mph (113 km/h)
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Pere Marquette 1225 is a Berkshire 2-8-4 N-1 class steam locomotive. Chris Van Allsburg based the train in his book, The Polar Express on this locomotive. This has led to the locomotive being nicknamed, "The Real Polar Express." For the film, the producers used blueprints of #1225 to create the model of the Polar Express locomotive. Most of the sounds were also from #1225 with the exception of the whistle, which came from Sierra Railway No. 3.


Pere Marquette 1225 was built at the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio in 1941 for the Pere Marquette Railway along with eleven other locomotives of the same class. During its first decade in service, it mostly pulled steel and wartime freight. The locomotives remained in service after Pere Marquette's merger into the Chesapeake and Ohil Railway in 1947. However, in 1951, the locomotive was withdrawn from service and sent for scrap in New Buffalo, Michigan.

Luckily, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad gave the locomotive to Michigan State University as a gift because Cyrus Eaton, the chairman of the railroad, did not have the heart to scrap it. As a result, a group of student from the university formed the Michigan State University Railroad Club and set a goal to restore the locomotive to its former glory.

The locomotive was put on static display near Spartan Stadium in 1957. Chris Van Allsburg, who was a little boy at the time, would play on the locomotive while attending football games at the stadium with his father. Van Allsburg says that he has fond memories of playing on the engine and that he was inspired by its number, which is also the date of Christmas Day, 12/25.

In November 1985, the same year The Polar Express book was published, #1225 was back in service and moved under its own power for the first time since 1951. Today, the locomotive currently resides in Owosso, Michigan and is one of two surviving members of its class with the other being Pere Marquette 1223. Annually since 2004, #1225 has hauled winter weekend excursions in November and December known as The North Pole Express.


  • In the film, the number 1225 appears on the children's tickets as well as on the keystone of the tunnel the Polar Express comes out of during the ticket chase scene.
  • Know-It-All describes the locomotive of the Polar Express to be a Baldwin 2-8-4 S-3 class steam locomotive rather than a Berkshire N-1. He also says it was built in 1931 and that it weighs 456,100 pounds. While in reality, Pere Marquette 1225 weighs 442,500 pounds, built by Lima and was built 10 years after 1931.


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