Yes, Virginia (and Kentucky and Tennessee, too), CSX’s Santa Train is a 75-year hit with history

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Santa, Ricky Skaggs, and volunteers distribute gifts to the crowd at Clinchco, Va.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn
CSX Transportation's Santa Train rolls south at Starnes, Va., on its trip from Shelbiana, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn., on Nov. 18, 2017.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn
CLINCHCO, Va. – A gray and yellow memory clad in EMD’s timeless streamlining returned the Clinchfield to the CSX Transportation’s Santa Train Saturday for the Appalachian holiday tradition’s 75th running through Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Newly restored Clinchfield F7 No. 800 and redecorated Seaboard Coast Line SD45 No. 2024 as CRR No. 3632 provided vivid reminders of the 277-mile regional that disappeared under the Seaboard System flag in 1982 and CSX’s widening umbrella in 1986.

The locomotives, on loan for the event from the Southern Appalachian Railway Museum in Oak Ridge, Tenn., ran ahead of two of CSX’s F40s along to provide head-end power to the train. The F7-SD45 combo drew a large contingent of rail enthusiasts from across the country to witness and photograph the event. On the rear, Santa, assisted by country music star Ricky Skaggs, and many helpers tossed out 15-tons of gifts to people who gathered at a dozen stops between the train’s start at Shelbiana, Ky., and its terminus at Kingsport, Tenn.

The F7, it was announced Saturday, will travel with the office car train to Jacksonville, Fla., where it will be forwarded to the new Royal Palm Rail Experience at Tavares, Fla., where it will go into service on Polar Express trains. The SD45 will return to Oak Ridge.

Read more about the F7 in the February 2018 of Trains Magazine.
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