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 recorded from #1225. One notable exception is 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 N1-class locomotives. During its first decade in service, it mostly pulled steel and wartime freight. The N1-class locomotives remained in service after Pere Marquette's merger into the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1947. However, in 1951, #1225 was withdrawn from service and sent for scrap in New Buffalo, Michigan.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 students from the university formed the Michigan State University Railroad Club and set a goal to restore #1225 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 in it 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, 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 the N1 class with the other being Pere Marquette 1223. Annually since 2004, #1225 has hauled winter weekend excursions in November and December initially as the Polar Express, then as The North Pole Express after the film license expired.


  • 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.
    • Most merchandise of The Polar Express portray the Polar Express locomotive with said number, even though it does not actually appear with it in either the book or the film.
  • Know-It-All describes the locomotive of the Polar Express to be a Baldwin 2-8-4 S-3 class Berkshire type steam locomotive, built in 1931 at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, weighing 456,100 pounds. In reality, Pere Marquette 1225 is a class N-1 Berkshire, weighs 442,500 pounds, and was built by Lima in 1941 (10 years later).


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