Pere Marquette 1225


Pere Marquette 1225, the largest and most impressive piece in the Steam Railroading Institute’s collection, is one of the largest operating steam locomotives in Michigan. 

The 1225 was built in October of 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio for the Pere Marquette Railway. The locomotive was used for 10 years between Detroit, Toledo, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Chicago; hauling fast freight for the products of Michigan factories and farms, including war materiel when Detroit was the “Arsenal of Democracy,” producing huge volumes of vehicles, aircraft, and armaments. The locomotive is one of 39 2-8-4 or Berkshire types ordered by the Pere Marquette. The superpower design was developed between 1925 and 1934 and used by over half a dozen railroads to haul freight at maximum speed and minimum cost. 

The Pere Marquette 1225 is sixteen feet tall, 101 feet long with a combined engine and tender weight of 400 tons, while producing an impressive 5000 tractive horsepower.  It takes about eight hours to generate a full head of steam on the locomotive’s boiler, which operates at 245 pounds per square inch. The tender holds 22 tons of coal and 22,000 gallons of water, consuming one ton of coal for every twelve miles and 150 gallons of water per mile.  The locomotive cost $245,000 or roughly $2.5 million by today’s standards.

The Pere Marquette Railway merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio in 1947, but the 1225 continued in service until its retirement in 1951 in favor of diesel locomotives. In 1957, the locomotive was saved with the help of Forest Akers; Dodge Motors’s Vice President and Michigan State University Trustee, who saw it as a real piece of machinery for Engineering students to study. Displayed as an icon of the steam-era, it sat at MSU until 1969, when a group of students took an interest in the locomotive. The Michigan State University Railroad Club was formed at that time with the ambitious goal of restoring 1225 and using it to power excursion trains that would bring passengers to football games at the university. In 1982, under the newly evolved Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation, the donated locomotive was moved to the former Ann Arbor Railroad steam backshop in Owosso where the restoration continued until 1985 when it moved under its own power for the first in 34 years.  

Today the Pere Marquette 1225 is owned, maintained and operated by the Steam Railroading Institute. It’s part of the National Register of Historic Structures and is renowned for its role in the 2004 Warner Bros. Christmas Classic, THE POLAR EXPRESS™. 1225's blueprints were used as the prototype for the locomotive image as well as its sounds to bring the train in the animated film to life!

Chicago and North Western 175

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Chicago and North Western 175 was built in 1908 by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York. The locomotive hauled freight and passenger trains from rural Wisconsin to the iron-mining territory of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the Chicago and North Western Railroad until the early 1950’s.  It is a relatively-late example of a 4-6-0 Ten-wheeler; the standard dual-purpose locomotive of the early 1900’s and used on light trains until the 1940’s. Between 1900 and 1950, a large share of the transportation in the upper Midwest was accomplished by locomotives like the 175.

The Chicago and North Western and related railroads had 395 4-6-0’s built to this general design by 2 builders between 1901 and 1910, but the 175 is one of the 40 most modern; being equipped with the Walschaerts valve gear instead of the more primitive design.  With 63-inch driving wheels, these locomotives were known to exceed speeds of 60 miles per hour.

The 175 is the only C&NW locomotive in Michigan and was the last steam locomotive to operate on the railroad before its retirement in 1957.  The locomotive was sold to private owners in 1960 and spent many years in storage near Calumet, Michigan. In 2017, the 175 was generously made available for purchase to the Steam Railroading Institute by Mineral Range Inc, operator of the Mineral Range Railroad in Ishpeming. After final agreements and purchase was conducted, the locomotive was moved to its new home in Owosso. 

SRI has begun the restoration of the Chicago and North Western 175 to operating condition alongside the Pere Marquette 1225. Grants and gifts to finance the project are currently being sought.  This will be the organization’s second locomotive restoration project, following 1225’s return to service.

General Electric 25-ton Switcher “Mighty Mouse”

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Built in the 1940’s by General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania, this type of locomotive was used in light switching at industrial plants and elevators. The locomotive was last used by an elevator at Shelby, Ohio before being purchased by the Steam Railroading Institute at an auction in 2008. It is the primary switching locomotive in SRI’s yard, and for pulling the 1225 onto the turntable when not under steam.


Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounges “Pere Marquette Parlours” 575 & 580

Parlour Announcement.pngThese high-level dome-lounge cars are two of six built by the Budd Company for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s El Capitan luxury coach train in 1956. This was a unique train that composed of two-level passenger cars with most accommodation on an upper level, and entrances and some seating on a lower story at ground level.  The cars offered more efficient use of space and quieter interiors than conventional single-level cars.

The 1956 El Capitan cars were the first two-level coaches on intercity trains, and the design was revived by Amtrak in the 1980’s for its “Superliner” cars that are still in use today. The El Capitan was the coach counterpart to the prestigious Super Chief all-sleeper train connecting Chicago and Los Angeles.  In the 1960’s, the two trains were combined with special cars providing a connection between the high-level coaches and the single-level sleepers. The Hi-Level cars were continued in use by Amtrak after 1971 and were used interchangeably with Amtrak’s Superliners.  Eventually the coaches and diners were withdrawn from use, leaving only the dome-lounges in service.  The last use of these cars was in 2018 as “Pacific Parlour” cars on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight between Seattle and Los Angeles.  The interiors were redesigned for this service with a movie theater in the lower level, interiors have been retained today.

Purchased in 2019 by the Steam Railroading Institute, cars 575 and 580 serves a first-class ambiance; including high-end seating, panoramic views, specialized food and beverage service at the cash bar, and more.

Chesapeake and Ohio Baggage/Combination Coach 462

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Built in 1934 by the Pressed Steel Company for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, this car was used in branch-line service but sold shortly thereafter to the Chicago Great Western Railway. The CGW modernized the car with engine-powered air-conditioning and reclining seats until the railroad’s successor, the Chicago & North Western Railroad, converted it to a camp car for track crews.  The car was sold by the Illinois Railway Museum to Steam Railroading Institute member Gary Knudsen, who donated it to SRI.

462 was one of the very last “heavyweight” passenger cars to be built, of the type that was standard between 1914 and 1934.  It has a non-structural riveted steel car body on a steel girder frame.  All other passenger cars at SRI are “lightweight” streamlined cars with load-bearing carbodies.

It’s currently used as the concession and merchandise car for the Steam Railroading Institute’s excursions. 

Canadian National Coaches 5576, 5581, 5646, & Buffet-Lounge 762

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All 4 cars were part of 2 orders in 1952 and 1953 for 218 80-seat coaches for modernization of the Canadian National Railway’s passenger service.  They were built to designs of the Pullman Standard Car and Manufacturing Company and delivered from the Canadian Car Foundry in early 1954. The cars were used on the Canadian National’s premier trains of the 1950’s. They were delivered in the distinguished green-and-black “maple leaf” paint scheme and later changed to the grey-and-black scheme in CN’s 1966 image makeover. The cars operated across Canada, and presumably operated through Michigan on the International, Maple Leaf, and other through passenger trains between Toronto and Chicago. 

Cars 5576, 5581, and 5646 were converted to 76-seat coaches in the 1960’s with the addition of end luggage racks and redecorated by VIA after 1977, interiors have been retained today. Car 762 was originally coach 5567 and was converted to coach-café car 3025 in 1965. In 1969 its vestibule was removed, and it was converted to café-lounge car 762; with 22 lounge seats, 20 dining-room seats, and 5 counter seats.  This car is currently stored pending floor and car body repair and design of a new interior.

In February of 2005, the Steam Railroading Institute purchased the cars from the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Railway Company, which previously modernized them with diesel generators plus new heating and air-conditioning. A similar coach is currently retained by the Great Lakes Central Railroad and is occasionally used on excursions by SRI.

Pennsylvania Railroad Coach 147

This coach has an interesting history. Built in 1950 by the Budd Company as a 21-roomette sleeping car, the “Norristown Inn” served the Pennsylvania Railroad, named after one of the colonial-era taverns. With the shrinkage of Pullman service, this order of stainless-steel sleeping cars were returned to the Budd Company for conversion to commuter coaches in the 1960’s and were commonly used between New York and Washington in “Clocker” service.

12 cars were purchased using Urban Mass Transit Administration funds by the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) in the 1970’s where this car was renumbered 107 “Troy.” At the end of Detroit’s commuter service in 1984, the cars were transferred to the New York MTA and ultimately Maryland MARC Train Service. They were completely rebuilt by MARC in the early 1990’s, and later donated to several museums upon retirement.

MARC 147 was given to the B&O Railroad Museum in 2001, which generously made the car available for purchase by the Steam Railroading Institute in 2017.

Chesapeake and Ohio Pullman Sleeper “City of Ashland” 2624

Sleeping cars provided overnight transportation in the era before intercity auto and air travel. Built by the Pullman Standard Car and Manufacturing Company in 1950, this car is one of the last generations of railroad sleeping cars. Unlike the open-berth cars of the 1920’s, these streamlined cars had all enclosed rooms. This is the most common style of lightweight sleeper, known as a “10 6” because it has 10 small roomettes with a single bed each, and 6 double bedrooms with two beds, that can be combined into suites.  Normal occupancy would have been 22 passengers, assisted by a Pullman porter who slept on a short bunk at one end of the car.

The “City of Ashland” is one of a large order of 56 10-6’s for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, intended for service between Washington, Newport News, White Sulphur Springs, Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit.  These 56 cars were named for cities on the C&O line; including several in Michigan that did not have sleeping-car service or even passenger service. Sleepers built in the early 1950’s went out of use quickly due to being obsoleted by highways and airlines.  

This car was sold to a private collector in 1971 and was stored for many years along with sister car “City of Ludington” in Lima, Ohio until the early 1990’s. Steve Zuiderveen, John Baldwin and Max Smith became owners of the car until 2003 when it was donated to the Steam Railroading Institute. “City of Ashland” retains its original interior and is operable, but presently used only for crew accommodation.

U.S. Army Kitchen Car 1363

Built in 1950 by the St. Louis Car Company, this car was used as a kitchen car for the U.S. Army hospital and troop trains.  It was sold in the 1970’s to several different entities, including Amtrak.  Amtrak converted this car to baggage car 1363 and used it until the mid-1990s, when it was sold to the Steam Railroading Institute. It is currently stored awaiting re-use.


Pere Marquette 50-foot Boxcar 72332

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Built as part of a 100 car-order by the Ralston Steel Car Company, these boxcars were constructed between August and December of 1946 and were nearly identical to the ones constructed by Greenville Car Company in 1940.  These were the last new cars to be ordered by the Pere Marquette Railway before their merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio in June of 1947. 50-foot, double-door boxcars carried the two products most associated with the Pere Marquette; finished automobiles from Detroit and Flint, auto parts in special racks, and furniture from Grand Rapids. Shipment of automobiles in boxcars came to an end just after these cars were delivered and they were used in regular service through the 1970’s.  This car was found by Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation members being used for storage in Wayne, Michigan and was donated by the Chessie System in 1981. It currently serves as storage and as part of a recreation of a 1940’s-era freight train for photo charters.

Ann Arbor PS-1 Boxcar 1314

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Ann Arbor 1314 is one of more than 76,000 40-foot PS-1 boxcars that were built by Pullman Standard Car and Manufacturing between 1947 and 1967 and arrived on the Ann Arbor in 1957.  Car 1314 represents one of the most important standard postwar freight-car designs.  The 40-foot boxcar was the standard car for haulage of most kinds of freight before the shift of small shipments to trucks and adoption of longer cars with specialized designs in the 1960’s.  Delivery of these cars allowed the Ann Arbor to retire the rebuilt ex-Wabash cars of the 1100-series.

Wabash Boxcars 1138 & 1128

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Originally double-sheathed wood cars, built to the World War I standard designs of the United States Railway Administration, these cars were delivered to the Wabash Railroad as series 23000-24000; consisting of two groups of similar cars built in 1922 and 1923. These cars were rebuilt during World War II by the Wabash at its Decatur shops in Illinois to meet the wartime demands and re-numbered into the 82000-82512 series.  The Ann Arbor purchased 50 of these cars in 1954, renumbered to the 1100 series, and used them in regular service until the delivery of their first order of PS-1 boxcars in 1957. After the delivery of the PS-1’s, some of these cars survived in maintenance-of-way service through the Ann Arbor Railroad bankruptcy. 1138 was donated to the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation by the State of Michigan in 1983 as part of the dissolution of assets and has been restored to its 1940’s Wabash number and paint scheme. 1128 remained in company-service use until it was donated by the Great Lakes Central Railroad in 2007. Both cars retain their Ann Arbor 1954-renumbers on the interior of the upper door frame.

Detroit and Mackinac Tank Cars X-127 & X-128

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Not much is known of these cars prior to their purchase by the Detroit & Mackinac Railway in the mid-1960’s. Markings on the cars and trucks seem to indicate their construction sometime just prior to World War II for either GATX or other car fleets.  D&M used these as fuel-oil storage at a facility in Bay City, Michigan for many years. They were donated to the Steam Railroading Institute by RailAmerica in 2007, and now operates as part of our photo charter freight train and as eventual auxiliary water cars for our steam locomotives.  One car has been restored to represent a Pure Oil tank car, and the other to a Dow Chemical scheme, thanks to a grant from the Gerstacker Foundation.

Chesapeake and Ohio Gondola 31262

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The 50-foot gondola was the standard car for shipment of steel products, scrap metal, machinery, and other freight loaded by cranes or shovels.  This car was built in December 1939 for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.  It was retired from freight use and converted to a wheel car at Russell, Kentucky in 1969.  Used for many years to move freight-car wheelsets by successors, Chessie System and CSX, the Bluewater Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society acquired the car in the late 1980’s.  It came to the Steam Railroading Institute in 2007 and was repainted to a dual Pere Marquette/C&O scheme in 2008.

Detroit and Mackinac Gondola 3514

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Built in 1947 for pulpwood, coal, and other uses for the Detroit & Mackinac Railway, this car and its sisters saw a variety of service over the years. One of the most unique uses was as idler cars for loading the Mackinac Transportation Company’s car ferry, Chief Wawatam, between Mackinac City and St. Ignace, Michigan.  When the last of these cars were scrapped by D&M successor, RailAmerica, this car was donated to the Steam Railroading Institute in 2007.


Ann Arbor Cabooses 2838 & 2839

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Built in January and March of 1952 respectively, these two cabooses served the Ann Arbor Railroad between Toledo, Ohio and Frankfort, Michigan. These cars were serviced during their careers in the old railroad shops in Owosso, now operated by the Great Lakes Central Railroad.  The cars have a unique streamlined cupola design used by the Wabash Railroad and its subsidiaries.

2838 had a rough life on the Ann Arbor Railroad. In the 1970’s, the car suffered an interior fire after rolling down an embankment during a derailment near Farwell, Michigan. The interior of the car was completely redone, hence its different appearance from the 2839. No. 2838 was auctioned by the State of Michigan in 1985 as part of the Ann Arbor’s bankruptcy. The caboose was purchased by the Bluewater Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society before being sold to the Steam Railroading Institute in 2007. Restoration was made possible with aid from the Krauss Foundation of North Carolina, as well as donations from the Marsh and Wilson families. 2838 has been restored to the “DT&I/ Compass” scheme, as it appeared in the mid-1960’s.

2839 was kept in service after the Ann Arbor Railroad’s bankruptcy and was purchased by the reorganized Ann Arbor Railroad Company and was used in and around Toledo, Ohio until the 1990’s.  It was then purchased by Steam Railroading Institute member Steve Zuiderveen, who moved it to Maryland to repair the damage from a collision on the Ann Arbor. The car came to SRI in 2004 and was restored by the volunteers in 2005 to the “Wabash/ Flag” scheme as when delivered in 1952. Mr. Zuiderveen donated the caboose to the Steam Railroading Institute afterwards.

Pere Marquette Caboose A909

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Built by the Magor Car Company in 1937, A909 (The “A” was for accommodation) was part of an order of 25 cabooses for the Pere Marquette Railway. Cabooses of this style were used on every freight train hauled by the 1225. A909 went on to serve the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and Chessie System until its retirement in July of 1983.  After retirement, it was donated to the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation. Today, it is used on certain excursion for the Steam Railroading Institute and on freight trains for photo charters.  The original Andrews-style 1911 boxcar trucks were replaced by more modern caboose trucks in 2017 as a safety measure.

Pere Marquette 1701 & Detroit and Mackinac 7 Troop Sleepers

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In late 1943, the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation contracted with the Pullman Company to build 2,400 troop sleepers due to a shortage of sleeping cars brought about by World War II.  These cars carried soldiers in a cheap, noisy, rough-riding alternative to passenger-type sleeping cars, but with the services of a Pullman porter. The soldiers slept in 24 three-high bunks. Troop cars saw service though 1947, after which many were sold by the U.S. Army Transportation Corp. Many railroads subsequently converted them into mail cars, express boxcars, box or refrigerator cars, cabooses or camp cars.

Pere Marquette 1701 was purchased as war surplus by the Pere Marquette Railway in 1947, who converted it to a baggage car by plating over the windows and adding a baggage door.  It was used by the Pere Marquette’s successors, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and Chessie System, in maintenance-of-way service until 1985 when it was donated to the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation. It’s currently used as the tool car both at the Steam Railroading Institute and out on the road with Pere Marquette 1225.

Detroit & Mackinac 7 was purchased as war surplus by the Detroit & Mackinac Railway in 1948, who converted it to a baggage car by plating over several windows and adding a baggage door and vestibules. After passenger service ended on the D&M in 1951, the car was made into a caboose, allowing D&M to retire several aging wooden cabooses. In the 1970’s, a Detroit Diesel generator was added to the car, to serve as a power car for D&M’s business-car fleet. In 2004 the Steam Railroading Institute purchased the car for use as an auxiliary power car.  A second Diesel generator set was added in 2018.

Rock Island Auxiliary Water Tender 5000

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The Steam Railroading Institute’s auxiliary water tank car is the tender from a Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific 5000-series 4-8-4 steam locomotive, built by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York.  In the 1950’s, the Rock Island converted many of these tenders to movable diesel-fuel tank cars for branch-line terminals.  This car was sold to steam locomotive collector, Dick Jensen of Chicago, and resold to a steel mill for fuel storage at Lemont, Illinois.  It was purchased by Steam Railroading Institute member, Aarne Frobom and donated to SRI for use behind Pere Marquette 1225 on longer trips. It has an approximate water capacity of 30,000 gallons.

Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Burro Crane 15027

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Built by the Burro Crane Company in the 1940’s for the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railway, these were designed for light lifting duties and hauling a single car of rail, ties, and spikes for track repairs.  When the DT&I was purchased by the Grand Trunk Corporation, this crane was transferred and then donated to the Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation in the 1990’s. It’s used for light lifting jobs at the Steam Railroading Institute.

Speeder/Gasoline Motor Car


Built in 1983 by the Plasser American Corporation for the U.S. Army, these types of vehicles replaced hand pump-cars for track gangs as they performed inspections along the railroad.

Grand Trunk Western Track Foreman’s Bunk Car 58332

This single-sheathed wood-sided boxcar was constructed as an automobile car for transporting assembled 1920’s autos. This is a unique style of boxcar common to Michigan railroads when finished autos were hauled.  Most auto-boxcars had double side doors; through which cars were laboriously moved and jacked into position, elevated over each other. This car originally had end doors through which cars could be driven. After use of this inefficient method was abandoned, auto-boxcars were used in general freight service.

Several of these cars were rebuilt by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad’s Port Huron car shops in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s for maintenance-of-way service.  This car was stationed at Pontiac, Michigan for several years, and saved by the Bluewater Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society before being sold to the Steam Railroading Institute in 2007. In July of 2008, SRI received a National Railway Historical Society Grant to re-do the wood exterior of this car.  The car’s entire wood interior and exterior were replaced by Andrew Munerance and many other volunteers as part of his Eagle Scout project.  The car is now back in its intended use as a foreman’s office.


Welcome Center

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The Steam Railroading Institute’s welcome center is in a renovated freight warehouse that was originally serviced by the Ann Arbor Railroad. Its construction date is unclear, but a structure sat on its current foundation as early as the late 1880’s. It is speculated that this structure burned down and the current concrete-block one was built in the 1920’s.  

The building was originally used as a creamery, then as a warehouse for storing sacks of grain. Bruckman’s Moving and Storage then leased the building from the railroad and used it for storage. Owosso was traditionally a furniture and casket making city, known for its master woodworkers and the welcome center is an example of this facet of city history. The building’s floor is incredibly solid, capable of handling heavy loads and the ceiling is of solid wood trusses with king post supports on the ceiling. 

In 2004, the building was purchased by the Steam Railroading Institute from the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Railway Company and was renovated for use as the welcome center. It contains exhibits, a model train layout, and SRI’s collection of archival materials and artifacts.

New Buffalo Turntable


Built in 1919 with a 90-foot length, it was put in service on the Pere Marquette Railway at the engine terminal in new Buffalo, Michigan.  It served a 16-stall roundhouse and was in use until 1984 when the Chessie System ceased operations at the terminal.  Today, the relocated turntable functions much as it did during the steam era.  The Steam Railroading Institute uses it to turn the equipment, provide service to the backshop, and for demonstrative purposes for visitors.  The Pere Marquette 1225 used this turntable during its service despite its short length.  SRI, upon purchasing the turntable, added an additional ten feet to the length of the bridge making it easier to accommodate 1225 and other large steam locomotives and rolling stock.