The Herpolsheimer’s kiddie train carried children high above the toy department at the Herpolsheimer’s Department Store, which sat at the corner of Fulton and Division streets in downtown Grand Rapids. The monorail train debuted as “Santa’s Rocket Express” when the new Herpolsheimer’s Department Store opened in 1949 and became a year round favorite for kids from all around the region.
The Santa Express debuted in 1949 with the opening of Herpolsheimer’s Department Store at the corner of Fulton and Division streets in downtown Grand Rapids, according to the museum. In its heyday, it was suspended above the toy department at Herpolsheimer’s. Herpolsheimer’s was one of two Grand Rapids department stores that inspired the “The Polar Express.” Though Herpolsheimer’s isn’t mentioned in the book, it’s named in the 2004 film. You can learn more about the train’s unique history here >