Pere Marquette 1225 is a 2-8-4 (Berkshire) steam locomotive built for Pere Marquette Railway (PM) by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio.

No. 1225 is one of two surviving Pere Marquette 2-8-4 locomotives.

(Grp24 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)



The Pere Marquette Railway (reporting mark PM) operated in the Great Lakes region of the United States and southern parts of Ontario in Canada. It had trackage in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and the Canadian province of Ontario. Its primary connections included Buffalo; Toledo; and Chicago. The company was named after Père (French for Father) Jacques Marquette S.J. (1637–1675), a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan's first European settlement, Sault Ste Marie.


Postcard map of the areas served by the Pere Marquette Railway in 1925.

(Pere Marquette Railway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Pere Marquette Railroad was incorporated on November 1, 1899, in anticipation of a merger of three Michigan-based railroad companies that had been agreed upon by all parties. It began operations on January 1, 1900, absorbing the following companies:

  • Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad (F&PM)
  • Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western Railroad (DGR&W)
  • Chicago & West Michigan Railway (C&WM)

The company was reincorporated on March 12, 1917, as the Pere Marquette Railway. In the 1920s the Pere Marquette came under the control of Cleveland financiers Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen. These brothers also controlled the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate), the Erie Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, and planned to merge the four companies. However, the ICC did not approve the merger and the Van Sweringens eventually sold their interest in the Pere Marquette to the C&O in 1929. The company continued to operate separately as the Pere Marquette Railway until being fully merged into the C&O on June 6, 1947. Forty years later, the C&O was absorbed into CSX Transportation.

In 1984, Amtrak named its passenger train between Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan the Pere Marquette.

The train in the 2004 film The Polar Express was modeled after steam locomotive Pere Marquette 1225. The film also included audio recordings of the locomotive in operation. It is the locomotive that Chris Van Allsburg said was the inspiration for the book, having seen it as a child when it was on the Michigan State University campus. The locomotive was scheduled to be at the premiere in Grand Rapids, where the writer was born, but was canceled because of interferences with the schedule of CSX. It is now housed and maintained at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan.


Loading salt into a Pere Marquette boxcar. (Creator: John Boyd, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

A Pere Marquette Flyer circa 1910. (Alton G. Cook, Petoskey, Michigan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ad for a Pere Marquette cruise to Duluth, 1905. (Various, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Pere Marquette Railway bridge in Port Huron, Michigan as seen in 2021. It was demolished in 2023. (Michi906, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

PM Station Station on Potter Street, Saginaw, MI, 1880s. (Kevmark58, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pere Marquette Station and Tracks, Saginaw, MI. (Kevmark58, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Fort Street Union Depot in Detroit, Michigan
Date 1910. (Detroit Publishing Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

August 20, 1919. Wreckage of a passenger and freight train that collided head-on on the Pere Marquette Railroad near Beitner, Michigan on August 20, 1919. Among those killed in the wreck were Railway Post Office clerk Frank Cushman and five railroad employees. Three railroad employees and 34 passengers were injured in the wreck that occurred after the freight train crew proceeded on the line instead of transferring onto another line near Beitner. (Smithsonian Institution from United States, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons)

Bay City Station, Pere Marquette Railroad Depot — Bay City, Michigan. (By Andrew Jameson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car No. 25, exterior view, ca. 1905. (Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car, café. (Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car no. 25, smoking room. (Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car no. 25, interior view seating. (Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Copper ready for shipment in Houghton, Michigan in c 1906. A ship (Pere Marquette 5) is in the background and Copper Range Rail Road (CRRR) cars in the foreground. (Detroit Publishing Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Surviving Steam Locomotives

1. PM No. 1223, a 2-8-4 "Berkshire" displayed at Chinook Pier in Grand Haven, Michigan. PM No. 1223 is the oldest surviving example of the 2-8-4s in America.

2. PM No. 1225, a 2-8-4 "Berkshire" operational by the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. PM No. 1225 is the real steam locomotive that made an appearance in the Warner Bros movie The Polar Express. (See photo at top of page).


1907 wreck

On July 20, 1907, an excursion train carrying 800 passengers from Ionia to Detroit collided near Salem with a freight train, killing 31 and injuring 101. The accident apparently happened because of a hand-written schedule on unlined paper whose columns did not line up, and was misread by the freight crew. The Interstate Commerce Commission investigation also cited safety violations, including use of pine instead of oak for car walls and the omission of steel plates required for mail cars. This was Michigan's worst rail disaster.


Postcard depiction of the line's streamliners. (Pere Marquette Railway., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Postcard photo of one of the railroad's dining cars. The PM was one of the few railroads that featured waitresses, not waiters. (Pere Marquette Railway., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


C&O's The Pere Marquette at Grand Central Station in Chicago on December 26, 1967. (Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Routes and current disposition

  • Toledo Division — Saginaw, Michigan to Alexis, Ohio and (via trackage rights over Ann Arbor Railroad) Toledo, Ohio (In use by CSX Transportation south of Plymouth, leased to Lake State Railway north of Plymouth)
  • Ludington Division — Saginaw to Ludington, Michigan (Partially now part of the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, between Baldwin and Ludington in use with Marquette Rail, and Saginaw to Midland used by Lake State Railway Company, with the rest of the line removed in 1991; the ferry closed in 1990)
  • Detroit Division — Detroit, Michigan to Grand Rapids, Michigan (In use by CSX)
  • Grand Rapids Division — Elmdale, Michigan to Saginaw, Michigan (Alma-Saginaw in use by Mid-Michigan Railroad)
  • Chicago Division — Grand Rapids, Michigan to Porter, Indiana and (via trackage rights over various lines) Chicago, Illinois (In use by CSX)
  • La Crosse Branch — New Buffalo, Michigan to La Crosse, Indiana (Abandoned north of Wellsboro, Indiana by C&O in 1989, most tracks removed; Wellsboro to La Crosse in use by the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad)
  • Petoskey Division — Grand Rapids, Michigan to Bay View, Michigan was the basis for the Pere Marquette's longest route, the Chicago and Detroit-Bay View Resort Special. (In use by Marquette Rail between Grand Rapids and Manistee and by the Great Lakes Central Railroad between Grawn and Williamsburg, with the rest dismantled in 1983 after being abandoned by C&O in 1982)
  • Canadian Division — Lines in Canada, including Windsor, Ontario and Sarnia, Ontario via Blenheim, Ontario to St. Thomas, Ontario and St Thomas east to Buffalo, New York via trackage rights over the Canada Southern (Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway trackage rights over CASO from Welland, Ontario to Buffalo via Niagara Falls, Ontario).
  • Saginaw Subdivisions — Saginaw, Michigan to Port Huron, Michigan via two routes and to Bay City, Michigan (Mostly abandoned between 1951 and 1988, some sections in use with the Huron and Eastern Railway)


Car ferries

The Pere Marquette operated a number of rail car ferries on the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers and on Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. The PM's fleet of car ferries, which operated on Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Milwaukee, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, were an important transportation link avoiding the terminal and interchange delays around the southern tip of Lake Michigan and through Chicago. Their superintendent for over 30 years was William L. Mercereau.


Postcard illustration of sinking ferry 18, with ferry 17 coming to its aid.

(F. W Andrews & Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Pere Marquette 18

On September 10, 1910, Pere Marquette No. 18 was bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Ludington, Michigan, with a load of 29 railroad freight cars and 62 people on board. Near midnight, the vessel began to take on massive amounts of water. The captain dumped nine railroad cars into Lake Michigan, but this was no use—the ship was going down. The Pere Marquette 17, traveling nearby, picked up the distress call and sped to assist the foundering vessel. Soon after she arrived and she could come alongside, the Pere Marquette 18 sank with the loss of 28 lives; there were 33 survivors. The wreck was not found until July 23, 2020.



Headquarters: Cleveland, Ohio
Reporting mark: PM
Locale: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Ontario, New York (state), and Wisconsin
Dates of operation: 1900–1947
Successor: Chesapeake and Ohio later CSX
Track gauge 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


See Also:

Railroads A-Z