Pere Marquette Railway Locomotive #1223

Chinook Pier Park, Jackson Ave., Grand Haven, Michigan

One of Two Extant Pere Marquette Locomotives


Pere Marquette 1223

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2020




Pere Marquette 1223 is a Berkshire type (2-8-4) locomotive that was built in 1941 by Lima Locomotive Works. (The cost was $90,000 which is equivalent to $1.6 million today.) It was used in freight service before and after WWII. The Pere Marquette Railroad was acquired by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in 1947 and although the C&O changed its number, the loco remained in Pere Marquette livery, including the number.

1223 was taken out of service in 1951 and put into storage. After retirement, it was sent to be scrapped. It survived, and in 1960 it was painted and moved to the state fairgrounds in Detroit. 1223 remained on the fairgrounds until it was in the way of expansion and put up for bid. Grand Haven won and the locomotive was moved here in 1981.

A sister locomotive, 1225, has been restored to operational condition. Since 1223 has been exposed to the elements for so many years, the restoration to operation is unlikely. 1225 was also taken out of service in 1951 and wound up at the Michigan State University campus in Lansing. It remained there until it was restored to operational condition in 1985. 1225 was the prototype for the 2004 animated film The Polar Express.

1223 is on display in a park along with the historical coal tipple, railroad cars, and several pieces of rail memorabilia.

1223 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 28, 2020. The coal tipple is also on the NRHP.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 7, 2000
Reference number
Areas of significance
Engineering; Transportation
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Periods of significance
1925-1949; 1950-1974

Update Log 

  • August 20, 2020: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • August 20, 2020: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • August 20, 2020: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status and added photos