Grand Rapids author Chris Van Allsburg based his famous children's book 'The Polar Express' on the Pere Marquette Railroad's 1225 steam engine, now based in Owosso.

The train still exists and rolls out of the station every Holiday season.

Van Allsburg used to play on the train when it was based at Michigan State University. The number of the engine '1225', is the date of Christmas, and that helped inspire Van Allsburg to combine the train with his Christmas memories of GR Department Stores Herpolsheimer's and Wurzburg's, which went over the top every year in their Christmas decorations.

The result was an award winning book about a train which is filled with chocolate and candy and is headed for the North Pole.

The book was later made into an animated film featuring the voice of Tom Hanks as the train's conductor.

The real Pere Marquette 1225 engine still rides today and is based at the Steam Railroading Museum in Owosso, and since 2004 has taken passengers on rides from Owosso to Ashley in mid-Michigan every Thanksgiving through Christmas. It's called The North Pole Express and you can book tickets for the ride here, if you ever want to ride on the real Polar Express.



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