Locomotive Wiki
Pere Marquette No. 1225
Pere Marquette #1225


Lima Locomotive Works

Date Built

October 1941

Serial Number




Wheel Arrangement

2-8-4 Berkshire


Standard (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)

Driving Wheel Dia.

69 inches

Cylinder Size

26" x 34"

Locomotive Weight

442,500 lb (200,700 kg)

Valve Gear


Tractive Effort

69,368 lbs

Boiler Pressure

245 psi (1.69 MPa)



V - E - T - D

Pere Marquette No. 1225 is a class N-1 2-8-4 Berkshire-type steam locomotive that currently runs and services at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. It also makes runs with Nickel Plate Road 765, occasionally. Both of these steam engines have a similar design. The Pere Marquette 1225 is also called the real polar express, due to it being the inspiration behind the steam locomotive in the legendary Christmas movie: The Polar Express.


Pere Marquette No. 1225 was built in 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works for the Pere Marquette Railway, where it worked hauling freight in the mid 40s and 50s. 1225 was retired from active service 1951 and was sent to be scrapped in New Buffalo Michigan. In 1957 the locomotive was saved from scrap and was placed on display at the Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan, where it remained from 1957 until the early 1980's. In 1981 the 1225 was donated to MSTRP by MSU just off campus and was later moved to former Ann Arbor Railroad steam locomotive shop in Owosso, MI where the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay railroad was formed in the midst of the restoration. Its top speed is 70 mph.

In November 1985, the 1225 moved under its own power for the first time since 1951, its first train excursion serviced in 1988, a 12-mile (19 km) trial runs between Owosso and Chesaning. Two years later, the 1225 rode the former PM mainline, this time on two freight runs in a test trial to determine if the locomotive was to be suited for the National Railway Historical Society convention next year. In 1991, the 1225 paired up with Nickel Plate cousin no. 765 at Lima, Ohio along the way to Huntington, West Virginia where they both attend the NRHS Convention. Although one fitting bend on the track was the 1225 had been slapped with a 20 MPH speed restriction for lacking a speedometer on board, due to the fact a FRA inspector hadn't realized the steam part of the rules. But one of the highlights of the double-header trek to Cincinnati in fading light was a whistle-blowing tribute to the now-decaying abandoned foundations of the Lima Locomotive Works: their birthplace since the early 40's in WWII. For Michigan Preservation member Rod Crawford, it was a emotional moment for the 765 and 1225 becoming a duo together before the double-header was formed at Lima. It was a frosting to a cake for Rod. For two days through Cincinnati and on to Huntington, both the 2-8-4's hauled real freight trains since they were assigned for fast freight service on the mainline before dieselization. The locomotive ran until 2009 when it suffered a flue failure during Train Festival 2009 and was unable to pull passenger trains during the event, it later suffered another flue failure in December 2009. The 1225 went out of service in 2010 for its 15-year inspection and it's overhaul would began in January 2010. It returned to service in late November 2013 for test runs and pulled its first train since its return to service; 1225 has remained operational since.

The only other Pere Marquette steam locomotive that still survives today is #1223, on display in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Popular Culture[]

  • In 2002, Warner Bros. approached the engine and had its blueprints, image and sounds used for the 2004 Christmas Holiday film The Polar Express, starring Tom Hanks. Chris Van Allsburg, the author of the original book, stated that he used to play on the 1225 as a kid while attending football games in college and that he couldn't believe it was the same engine that was based on the train in his book. However, the whistle in the film was provided by Sierra Railroad No.3 , instead of the locomotives more traditional whistle. 1225's number is an obvious parallel to the date of Christmas Day, which is 12/25.
  • 1225 also appeared in the Marshall Productions 70-minute video Lots and Lots of REALLY BIG Steam Trains.

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