2023 Michigan POLAR EXPRESS STEAM TRAIN Rides! All Aboard This Christmas to See Santa! | Pere Marquette 1225 | Christmas North Pole Express in Owosso | Steam Railroading Institute

2023 Michigan POLAR EXPRESS STEAM TRAIN Rides | Christmas North Pole Express in Owosso | Pere Marquette 1225 Locomotive | By: Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated: October 27, 2023

ALL ABOARD, everyone! 

This Christmas, ride the 1225 Pere Marquette train, see Santa and visit the Christmas village of Ashley! The 1225 Pere Marquette locomotive is absolutely breathtaking. Owned by the Steam Railroading Institute, this nostalgic journey is an experience your family will never forget!  

So, this Christmas holiday season, dress in your favorite pajamas or lovely 1940s/1950s attire and climb aboard! The train runs select Saturday and Sunday dates throughout the months of November and December.

Red did you know graphic

The significance of the Pere Marquette Train number relates to the date of Christmas; December 25th, hence 12/25, or in this case 1225!

Ride the World-Famous Pere Marquette Steam Train!

Did You Know: The Pere Marquette is one of the biggest operating steam locomotives in the U.S.?

What Train Was the Movie, "The Polar Express" Based Off Of?

You know, the super popular movie with Tom Hanks?  

Well, per NPR, a Hollywood film crew came to Owosso Michigan in 2002 to capture the look and sound of the Pere Marquette 1225 as they wanted their upcoming Christmas movie, The Polar Express, to be as realistic as possible. 

It's very exciting that the Michigan Polar Express made movie history in 2004!

Inside and outside of the Pere Marquette 1225Ride the Michigan Polar Express This Christmas Season!

Ride The Michigan Polar Express in Owosso Michigan! 

Ride the Breathtaking Michigan Polar Express This Christmas! 

Once you witness the huge blasts of steam, hear the loud "here we go!" horn and experience the raw power of this living, breathing beast, your jaw will hit the ground.  Chris and I absolutely love this Michigan train ride.

The Pere Marquette 1225 Polar Express embarks on several sold out trips to the Christmas Village of Ashley each November and December. You are in a real treat, as this Michigan Christmas steam train ride is an incredible winter experience for the whole family. 

How long is the Polar Express train ride Michigan? The train ride from Owosso Michigan to the Christmas village of Ashley is 1 hour, 15 minutes. You will then disembark to enjoy the village for two hours and then it's, ALL ABOARD for the 1 hour, 15 minute ride back to Owosso.

Pere Marquette 1225 (Polar Express 1225) Fun Facts!

How Tall Is the 1225? 14 feet and 6 inches tall, 101 feet long

How Much does the 1225 Pere Marquette weigh? 442,500 lb!

When was Pere Marquette 1225 built?  October 1941

What is it's top speed? Its top speed is 70 mph.

Who owns Pere Marquette 1225 now? Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, Michigan. They operated the Polar Express train ride Michigan

How Does the Pere Marquette Operate?

Per the Steam Railroading Institute, "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."

Michigan Polar Express FAQ'S

How Much are Tickets for the Polar Express Train Ride in Michigan? From Coach Delux to Pere Marquette Private Car, There's a Wide Variety of Seating Options

Tickets for the Polar Express train ride in Michigan begin at approximately $70 per person to $5,000 for a whole car!

Is there a Polar Express in Michigan?

Heck yeah! The Polar Express in Owosso Michigan is incredible!

Where is the Polar Express Train Ride in Michigan?

The Polar Express train ride is located in Owosso Michigan. It is located northeast of Lansing and south of Saginaw.

Is North Pole Express Worth It?

If you are wondering, "Is North Pole Express worth it?" YES, YES and YES!  Chris and I LOVED our steam train experience. Watching the countryside fly by while enjoying hot chocolate and Christmas music is absolutely magical.

Is There a Snow Train in Michigan?

You betcha! The Michigan Polar Express is a snow train that offers an incredible way to enjoy snowy landscapes along the way to the Christmas village of Ashley. 

Can I Bring Strollers?

Strollers need to be portable, small, and easily loaded into the train car.

What Kind of Seats and Tickets are There? 

    There are six different classes of service. You can choose from vintage coaches to historic cabooses, with each one offering a different experience with yummy cup of hot cocoa! But they all have awesome Christmas ambiance as the North Pole Express chugs to the Village of Ashley and back. 

  • Coach
  • Coach Deluxe
  • Cocoa
  • Claus Club
  • Adult Only Pere Marquette Parlour
  • Caboose - sold per party of 12
  • Pere Marquette Private Car

Do I Need to Purchase a Ticket for my Child?

If you child is 19 months of age and older, they must have a ticket to ride the North Pole Express. Infants 18 months and younger must sit on a parent’s lap the entire trip without buying a ticket. Take note, this is a four and half hour trip (round trip excursion).

Chris and Sherry's Adventures on the Michigan Polar Express!

From the moment we stepped foot into the Parlor Car, we were blown away by the beauty of the train.  Our car was the second from the end and we climbed about 7 stairs to enter the train. 

  • There are several different classes and prices to chose from when selecting your tickets.  These photos are only representative of the Parlor Car

Chris and I splurged for the luxury of the parlor car which is an adult only experience for our date night.  Our train car had a variety of seats (all assigned) that ranged from club chairs, couches and seats with tables. 

All seats were spacious, comfortable and offered great views out the expansive windows on the Polar Express train ride Michigan.

There was a lovely spread of mini sandwiches, cheese and crackers to enjoy along the route to the village of Ashley.  Our train car on the Michigan Polar Express had a restroom and a bar with adult beverages and hot chocolate.  It was all very thoughtful and greatly appreciated by all!

You will need to purchase your admission tickets very early in the season as they sell out quickly.  You will receive your electronic tickets by email and you will just bring your phone with the email to the Visitors Center at the Steam Railroading Institute.  

You will receive these lovely souvenir tickets at check in.

  • We recommend arriving 45-50 minutes early so you can park, walk to the Steam Railroading Institute Visitors Center, check in, explore their lovely shop for Michigan souvenirs and mementos of your trip, use the restroom inside the Steam Railroading Institute and board the train. There are also porta-johns outside too.

The Pere Marquette 1225 Polar Express is super photogenic, so be sure to get some photos!

You can begin boarding about 30 minutes prior to departure.

We absolutely loved our table and comfortable seats aboard the Michigan Polar Express train. The volunteers, conductor and bartenders were so very friendly and made our trip very special.

After enjoying the Christmas village of Ashley, we climbed aboard for fun surprises!  Caramel corn and lovely North Pole Express mugs! 

You'll Visit The Village of Ashley Country Christmas For More Christmas Magic!

Guide of Activities at AshleyThings to do and a map of the Village of Ashley

Once you disembark after your one hour, fifteen-minute train ride, you will disembark at the Village of Ashley for a two-hour Christmas party!

While visiting the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas, be sure to step into the Czech bakery for delicious pastries, the Hobo Kitchen for hot soup or the Whistle Stop café for hot fries as you wander. 

We bought 2 handmade Christmas ornaments here that they personalized with our names!

Plus (depending on the weather-it was crazy cold when we were there) there's face painting, balloon artists, street performers and lots of photo opportunities! 

Don't worry, you won't go hungry!  Foote's Party Store, Schalls Burger Barn, Shepler's Pretzels and a few more treat shops will make sure of that!  

There are several bathrooms at the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas. 

You may want to bring a canvas shopping bag to pick up gifts for everyone on your list! You can find goat milk soaps at Xowen Farms, lavender gifts at MI Lavender Patch Farms and hand loomed rugs at Tara's.  

  • Be sure to have your photo taken in front of the Pere Marquette 1225 and stand in line to meet Santa Claus! Chris and I love our photo! Oh, and there's horse drawn wagon rides too!

Where to Park at the Steam Railroading Institute for the Polar Express Owosso

There is paid parking right across the street from the Steam Railroading Institute (about $10) if you are running late.  

Free parking is SUPER close, located at the NCG Cinema, and takes like 5-6 minutes to walk on paved walkways. 

The Steam Railroading Institute parking is marked and easy to find.

1225 Pere Marquette History

I'm absolutely fascinated with the powerful, majestic and absolutely breathtaking 1225 Pere Marquette Steam Locomotive. 

I decided to dig into the history of the 1225 Pere Marquette and discovered it was built in 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works for the Pere Marquette Railway.  It hauled freight until it was retired in 1951 and was sent to be scrapped in New Buffalo Michigan. 

How sad, right?  But wait!

In 1957, the MSU Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan thought the train was a great piece of machinery for students to study so they put it on display until 1981/1982.

While it was there, a group of students was fascinated with the 1225 steam train so they decided to form The Michigan State University Railroad Club. They had an ingenious (and ambitious) idea of restoring the 1225 Pere Marquette to begin exciting excursion trains that would transport football fans to the Michigan State University on game days. 

Around 1982, the stream train was moved a couple times and went to live at the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay railroad in Owosso for restoration.  The engine ended up at the Steam Railroading Institute (where it resides now) and engineers worked hard to get it running again. 

In November 1985, the 1225 moved under its own power for the first time since 1951 and made a few 12 mile trial runs between Owosso and Chesaning. The 1225 attended conventions and hauled freight trains until 2009 when it suffered a couple failures.

The 1225 began an overhaul in 2010 in which a crew of engineers and volunteers worked tirelessly to replace its aging boiler.

Four years later and nearly $1 million spent, the incredible Pere Marquette 1225 is back on the rails again!  

Where To Photograph the North Pole Express

Here is the route of the North Pole Express along it's journey to the Christmas Village of Ashley.  You can see all the cross streets so you can determine where to photograph this incredible Michigan steam train. 

Want More Santa Train and Christmas Trains?

HO HO HO My Michigan friends! If you want to ride more incredible Michigan steam trains, check out our list of:

Best Michigan Christmas Trains!

Visit Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan!

For a nostalgic, absolutely fabulous way to celebrate Christmas with friends and family, you just gotta visit Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad! Book a special ride this Holiday season!

You will swear you stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting!

Love Pere Marquette Trains? See the Pere Marquette 1223!

Did You Know....

The only other Pere Marquette steam locomotive is #1223 that is on display in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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What train was The Polar Express based off of? Not rated yet
I heard it was based on the train that runs in Michigan, have you heard about this? Answer Hi Gerald! Absolutely! The famous movie starring …

Who owns Pere Marquette 1225? Not rated yet
This train is incredible, our family fully enjoyed the train trip this past weekend and we were wondering who owns the Pere Marquette now? Answer …

When was Pere Marquette 1225 built? Not rated yet
This train is super cool, we had a great time! Do you know when it was built? Answer Hi John! The Pere Marquette was built in October 1941! …

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We think this train ride sounds awesome but we have small children with short attention spans! How long is the polar express train ride in Owosso? Thanks! …

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
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