Chris Van Allsburg, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan, has written a childrenâ€™s Christmas book that will some Â day Â rival Dickenâ€™s â€œA Christmas Carolâ€ and â€œThe Night before Christmasâ€. Van Allsburgâ€™s book â€œThe Polar Expressâ€ is the story of a young boy who is a true believer and takes a Christmas eve ride on a steam train to the North Pole. The book was written n 1985, and fueled by a popular movie of the same name hasÂ quicklyÂ become a Christmas literaryÂ tradition.
Interestingly, the steam train featured in the book also has a Michigan connection and was chosen for its unique identification number â€œ1225â€³. Since 1957, the train had beenÂ relegatedÂ toÂ showpiece status on the campus of Michigan State University. In the 60s, I remember walking by the giant rustingÂ hulk many times; especially on cold winter days. I first discovered the train in the summer of 1966 while at freshman orientation and I have always had fond memories of â€œthe little train that couldâ€ to steal from another popular childrenâ€™s book.
A little more than a decade later a group of students formed a fan club and started restoration work, which ultimately would take another two decades. In 1983, it was moved to Owosso and in 1988 it made Â its Â first rail trip.
As a famous newscaster once said â€œhereâ€™s the rest of the storyâ€: In 2004, the train began makingÂ holiday winter excursions andÂ starred, along with Tom Hanks,Â in the film â€œPolar Expressâ€ based on Van Allsburg childrenâ€™s book. Due to grinch-like copyright problems the train excursion canâ€™t use the name Polar Express.
Read more about Chris Van Allsburg on his websiteÂ and read about the movie version here.Â You can check on 1225 excursions and its fundraising efforts Â here. 1225 is currently undergoing massive rebuilding of its engine so check back to see when it will be up and running.
Make your plans now to rideÂ the polar excursion next year-it is typically sold out early.