The reference for locomotives and railcars
Pere Marquette classes N to N2
United States | 1937 | 39 produced
No. 1225 marked “Polar Express” in December 2004 in Henderson, Michigan
No. 1225 marked “Polar Express” in December 2004 in Henderson, Michigan
Stephen Wilder

For use in front of fast freight trains, the Pere Marquette also chose the 2-8-4 “Berkshire” wheel arrangement in the late 1930s. It was able to develop great power at speeds of up to 70 mph thanks to the large firebox above the bogie. Of a total of 466 square feet in the firebox, 122 were made up of thermosiphons and water pipes. This allowed 26 by 34 inch cylinders to be operated with 69 inch wheels.

The first delivery from 1937 included 15 class N locomotives. The last five of these had a booster in the bogie. In the years 1941 and 1944 twelve more N1 and N2 each followed. When the Pere Marquette was merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio in 1947, the N1 and N2 classes became the N-1 and N-2 and the N class became the N-3. The two newer series, which had not yet been paid for by the C&O, kept the color scheme and the old numbers.

From 1951 the locomotives were also used on routes other than those originally operated by the Pere Marquette. The first series was scrapped by 1954. The use of the newer machines ended in 1958 and a total of 13 units were stored until 1961, as payments were still outstanding.

Numbers 1223 and 1225 are still preserved today, both of which belong to class N1. The 1225 is the only still functional Pere Marquette locomotive today. It has been used intermittently since 1985 and formed the basis for the locomotive in the book and film “The Polar Express”. Today it is used almost every year around Christmas time on the “North Pole Express” in Michigan.

Built1937, 1941, 1944
Axle config2-8-4 (Berkshire) 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length101 ft 8 3/8 in
Wheelbase42 ft
Fixed wheelbase18 ft 2 1/2 in
Total wheelbase88 ft 2 3/4 in
Service weight442,500 lbs
Adhesive weight277,600 lbs
Total weight805,900 lbs
Axle load69,400 lbs
Water capacity22,000 us gal
Fuel capacity44,000 lbs (coal)
Power sourcesteam
Estimated power4,500 hp (3,356 kW)
Optimal speed41 mph
Top speed70 mph
Starting effort69,368 lbf
Power Plant
Driver diameter69 in
Boiler pressure245 psi
Expansion typesimple
Cylinderstwo, 26 x 34 in
Grate area90.3 sq ft
Firebox area466 sq ft
Tube heating area4,311 sq ft
Evaporative heating area4,777 sq ft
Superheater area1,932 sq ft
Total heating area6,709 sq ft
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
last changed: 02/2023

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