All aboard the Holiday Express train as it chugs through the hills

Holiday Express train departs from Hill City with a destination every kid would love.
Holiday Express train departs from Hill City with a destination every kid would love.(Juliana Alford)
Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 3:23 PM MST
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Hill City, S.D. (KEVN) - All aboard! This one-hour holiday express train departs from Hill City and makes it way to the North Pole.

For the past 10 years, the Holiday Train used its vintage diesel locomotives to haul about 340 passengers at a time to the North Pole.

Every passenger is encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing and is welcome to bring blankets on the train. The trains are equipped with small heaters, and everyone gets a cookie and hot chocolate during the trip.

Once the train departs, it makes its way to the North Pole, where Santa climbs aboard. Every kid gets their own bell and the chance to talk with Saint Nicholas himself.

For adults who want to experience the train without children, the Holiday Express offers a 21+ train ride. This option includes spiked hot chocolate and a tumbler to take home.

This special event runs every weekend in December, and does tend to sell out, so it is encouraged to buy tickets early.

For the train itself, it is one of the oldest tourist trains still operating in the nation.

“A group of businessmen got together and brought a steam locomotive and some old steam passenger cars here to the Black Hills and ran on what was the old main line for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy. And ever since 1957 we’ve run every single summer back and forth, so it was big anniversary year for us this year,” said Nathan Anderson, Business Operations Manager, 1880 Train.

The 1880 train has been operating for 65 years, and the Black Hills Central Railroad tours are continuously chugging with their three steam and two diesel engines.

The train does not run year-round, however, starting on Mother’s Day the train offers different rides including: Mother’s Day, Old West Shootouts, Wine Express, and Oktoberfest