The Gerald. R. Ford Presidential Express

train layout

Come meet the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Express!

This train's story begins in 1985, with the release of local author Chris Van Allsburg's book, The Polar Express. Amid the excitement stoked up by the book, Herbert and Shirley DeVries installed their train in the Pooh’s Corner bookstore window at Breton Village Mall. For nearly 30 years, the display added new scenes, until it became the centerpiece of the Mall's Christmas celebration. Even when the Devries family retired and passed the train on to the Mulder family, the tradition continued, those who first saw it as children now bringing their own. Sadly, after the 2016 Christmas season mall renovations left no room for the train.

Fortunately, The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum was looking for a new holiday exhibit. Thus began the nearly year-long quest by Museum staff to locate and acquire the train, plus additional time by staff and volunteers to refurbish it. After extensive work, the train finally found its new home. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is pleased to continue a longstanding Grand Rapids tradition, and to continue to grow it. We now host three train displays, including several new buildings commemorating moments in the life of President Ford.

To learn more about the heartwarming story of the train and its journey to the Museum, click here.

train layout