Book Review -
Twelve Twenty-Five by Kevin Keefe
Published by Michigan State University Press 2016
This is a 212 page, 8x11.5 horizontal format book printed on heavy 100-lb coated stock with both black and white and color photos. This book by Kevin P. Keefe, former editor and publisher of Trains magazine, is a complete history of Pere Marquette 2-8-4 Berkshire type No. 1225 from the beginning of its life in 1941 through its career hauling fast freight on the Pere Marquette and later on the C&O (after 1947), through its donation and display at Michigan State University, to its current life as a restored operating locomotive. The 1225's greatest claim to fame is its use as the basis for the continungly popular Polar Express movie. It is currently located on the former Ann Arbor trackage and roundhouse at Owosso, Michigan. The book itself is a very handsome and extremely well-printed publication worthy of any library, especially for those interested in the C&O and Pere Marquette. The black and white photos are as well printed as any book I have reviewed. This is not your ordinary University Press publication. Author Keefe has set the 1225 in its historical context all the way from the beginning of steam, through the superpower revolution of the 1930s-40s. He also explains the rise of the Pere Marquette from a backwoods lumber carrying line, to the powerful transportation vehicle for the automotive industry of Michgan. Following this information, Keefe then explains how the locomotive was donated to MSU and was eventually restored by students and others. He details the restoration and move to Owosso and the locomotive's subsequent return to steam and use on numerous excursion operations. Included in these is the famous NRHS meeting starring it and Nickel Plate No. 765 at Huntington, W. Va. in 1991. He concludes with the Polar Express experience and the engine as it is today. Complete notes and bibliography guide the reader to additional information. The text is comprehensive, well researched, and literate. The overall presentation of this book is in a word superior in almost every respect. It is cloth bound with color dust jacket. Those interested in big steam on the C&O and its associated lines under the Van Sweringen leadership will want this book. I highly recommend it. -Thomas W. Dixon, Jr.