Holiday Express train takes off for the season

HILL CITY, S.D. — Hill City is excited to get its famed locomotive back in action for the holidays.

The 1880 train is one of the oldest operating trains in the country, and a popular destination for locals and tourists. On Black Friday, the sound of Christmas music filled the cars as the train was transformed into the Holiday Express.

Event Holiday Train Coppess2

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The train transports families from the Hill City depot to the “North Pole” for a visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves. Although the train would usually be booked, take off has been slow, similar to this summer. The train opened a month late, in June, for very limited riding, and slowly built up momentum throughout the summer and fall.

“Almost all of our trains would be sold [out] by now; it’s been a very popular train for us,” said business operations manager, Nate Anderson. “And with COVID, it looks like – to us – that people are waiting, potentially even till the day of, to look for reservations…to see if they feel comfortable riding the train.”

The train has safety precautions in place for passengers. All employees, including Santa, will be wearing masks, and families are clustered rather than spread across aisles or seated with other people. Anderson says that while some sales were lost, safety was the number one priority. Despite the changes, passengers and staff were excited to get into the holiday spirit.

“We have some cautious people that are a little bit nervous; they want to ride the train, but are a little bit nervous,” said Anderson. “But then we have the other group that is very excited and glad that we’re still doing this holiday express train ride for this season. We’re just excited to run trains, and to bring that joy of not only trains, but Santa Claus to kids young and old.”

The Holiday Express will run through December 27th.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News