Pere Jacques Marquette was a French Jesuit priest who was a missionary to the Ottawa Indians. He died on the shore of Lake Michigan in 1675. On the spot where he died a small settlement sprang up and in his honor it was named Pere Marquette. A small railroad connected Flint Michigan and the lake port town of Pere Marquette. This railroad, incorporated in 1855, was called the Flint & Pere Marquette. Later in 1873, the town of Pere Marquette was incorporated as a city and changed its name to Ludington, Michigan, but the railroad kept the name.
The Pere Marquette Railroad began in 1900 with the merger of three lumber railroads, the Flint & Pere Marquette, the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western and the Chicago & West Michigan. This new railroad served much of Michigan and grew as the automobile industry grew.
Its position with the automobile makers and the other heavy industries of Michigan made it a constant target for take-over. Throughout its existence it came under the control of several railroads; the B & O, the Erie Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio. Finally, the C & O merged it into its operations in 1947.
As a member of the "Advisory Mechanical Committee" the Pere Marquette had access to some of the best locomotive designs of the day and selected the 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotive to haul its fast freight. These "Berkshires" hauled fast trains between Detroit, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Chicago and established an impressive record of speed and efficiency.
The Pere Marquette purchased thirty-nine "Berkshire" type locomotives from the Lima Locomotive Works in three orders, Class N, road numbers 1201 through 1215 in 1937, Class N-1, road numbers 1216 through 1227 in 1941 and Class N-2, road numbers 1228 through 1239 in 1944. These locomotives had 69" diameter drivers, 26" x 34" cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 69,350 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed about 278,000 pounds.
After the Pere Marquette was merged into the C&O some of its "Berks" began to carry the C&O name and all were to be renumbered as follows:
PM Class N #1201 - 1215 to be C&O 2685 - 2699
PM Class N-1 #1216 - 1227 to be C&O 2650 - 2661
PM Class N-2 #1228 - 1239 to be C&O 2670 - 2681
However, a stipulation in the merger agreement required that any equipment still not fully paid for had to remain in Pere Marquette livery. As a result, only the older Class N (road numbers 1201 through 1215) locomotives were ever renumbered.
By 1952, most of the "Berkshires" were gone from the former Pere Marquette divisions, with eleven transferred to the Chesapeake Division and the other twenty-eight retired. The Class N locomotives were scrapped in 1954 and some of Class N-2s were scrapped in 1956 and 1957. A total of thirteen were saved and stored at New Buffalo, MI until 1961.
There are two surviving Pere Marquette 2-8-4 "Berkshire" type locomotives. Both are presently in Michigan, with one in full operating condition. They are numbers 1223 and 1225 and are located as follows:
Number 1223 is at the Tri-Cities Historical Society display near ex-GTW
coaling tower, in Grand Haven, MI. This locomotive was displayed for many
years at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit, MI, during which
time many components were removed for use in the effort to restore sister
Number 1225 at the Steam
Railroading Institute facility in the former Ann Arbor Railroad Owosso
yard. Restored over a period of 20 years, #1225 is the last operable PM steam
locomotive and has been used by the MSTRP on excursions up the former NYC
St. Charles branch under the auspices of the Shiawassee Valley Railroad
in the early 1990s, as the centerpiece of their "Engineer for an Hour"
program, and on mainline excursions in West Virginia as part of the 1991
NRHS National Convention in Huntington, WV. She is an occasional visitor
to the Durand Railroad Day Festival.
Class N1 (Locobase 54)
Data from tables and diagrams in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia. (My thanks to Chris Hohl for identifying the valve gear.)
Firebox had 122 sq ft (11.3 sq m) of syphons and arch tubes. Consisting of three sub-classes, this set of Berkshires made their debut in 1937 when the first 15 N1s arrived.
In 1941, Lima produced 12 more (N-2) and followed with a final batch of 12 in 1944. (NB: The Pere Marquette Historical Society has this comment about the class IDs: "For reasons we have yet to discover, the N-2 class designation was typically hyphenated on the PM, but the the N1 class designation wasn't.")
Michigansteamtrain.com (http://michigansteamtrain.com/sri/our-collection/, last accessed 30 December 2012), owner of the 1225 in tourist service, stated in their description of the engine that it consumed one ton (0.9 tonne) of coal every 12 miles (19.3 km) and 1,800 US gallons (6,813 litres) over the same distance.