Seeing a blue and yellow CSX locomotive hauling freight alongside the railroads by way of Appalachia is nothing uncommon. However on the Saturday earlier than Thanksgiving, the enduring locomotive pulls one thing completely different – a string of passenger automobiles, 15 tons of presents, and Santa Claus. It’s the annual CSX Santa Practice, a practice relationship again a long time.
My household’s Christmas custom with the Santa Practice began with an accident in 1988. My brother, sister, and I have been crammed into the household automotive on our approach to see household in Massive Stone Hole. Whereas driving by way of St. Paul, my mother seen a throng of onlookers gathered close to the railroad observe in the course of city.
My dad stopped the automotive and walked towards the tracks to search out out what was taking place. A second later, he returned and shouted, “Everyone get out. The Santa Practice is coming!”
Twenty-six years later, I returned to St. Paul to expertise the CSX Santa Practice once more. I couldn’t assist the goosebumps that crept alongside my arms and backbone when the acquainted locomotive trudged across the curve. The prepare stopped, and ‘ole Saint Nick stepped onto the lined platform on the final automotive.
The CSX Santa Practice is one thing everybody should expertise a minimum of as soon as. This journey information is the whole lot it’s essential to find out about seeing the prepare because it travels by way of the small cities in Appalachia from Shelby, Kentucky, to Kingsport, Tennessee.
CSX Santa Practice Map
use this map: Click on the icon within the top-left nook to open the Map Legend, then click on on any of the legend gadgets to show extra data. When you have a Google account, click on the (very faint) star on the finish of the map’s title to avoid wasting this map to your account, then entry the map out of your smartphone throughout your journey.
Historical past of the CSX Santa Practice
Most coal miners’ households lived in poverty and spent most of their hard-earned earnings on the naked requirements. Christmas was a luxurious few may afford. So, in 1943, a service provider’s affiliation in Kingsport devised a approach to rejoice the gift-giving season.
The affiliation collected toys, clothes, and meals from companies and residents. Just a few tons have been collected in the course of the first run in 1943 – practically 15 tons have been loaded onto the prepare in 2023.
The Clinchfield Railroad’s most important line related Elkhorn Metropolis, Kentucky, to Kingsport, Tennessee. The inaugural “Santa Claus Particular” traveled the principle line in 1943. By 1986, the railroad was operated by CSX after a number of mergers introduced dozens of railroads collectively. Since then, the CSX Santa Practice has continued the custom.
2023 CSX Santa Practice Schedule
The 2023 CSX Santa Practice runs on Saturday, November 18, 2023, starting on the Shelby Yards close to Pikeville, Kentucky, and touring by way of Virginia to Centennial Park in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Right here is the entire schedule of stops the Santa Practice makes all through its run:
- 6:00 a.m. at Shelbiana, KY
- 6:20 a.m. at Marrowbone, KY
- 7:05 a.m. at Elkhorn Metropolis, KY
- 7:45 a.m. at Toms Backside, VA
- 8:07 a.m. at Haysi, VA
- 8:40 a.m. at Clinchco, VA
- 9:08 a.m. at Fremont, VA
- 10:08 a.m. at Dante, VA
- 10:53 a.m. at St. Paul, VA
- 12:03 p.m. at Dungannon, VA
- 12:48 p.m. at Ft. Blackmore, VA
- 1:48 p.m. at Kermit, VA
- 2:20 p.m. at Waycross, VA
- 3:00 p.m. at Kingsport, TN
Greatest Locations to See the CSX Santa Practice
The CSX Santa Practice travels a railroad part removed from main highways by way of small Appalachia cities. Many stops are difficult to go to except you reside inside a number of miles.
As an alternative of making an attempt an arduous journey on twisty roads, go to considered one of these finest locations to see the CSX Santa Practice.
The CSX Santa Practice’s first cease is the Shelby Yard within the unincorporated Shelbiana, Kentucky. The yard is a few fifteen-minute drive from Pikeville alongside U.S. Freeway 23. Parking is scattered however plentiful.
St. Paul, VA
St. Paul is the very best place to see the CSX Santa Practice after Kingsport. In the event you arrive early, round 10 a.m., chances are you’ll discover straightforward parking alongside Riverside Drive adjoining to the railroad tracks. In the event you arrive later, you’ll discover loads of parking all through the small city, however use Sensible Avenue for simple entry.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive to St. Paul from Abingdon alongside U.S. Freeway 58 Alternate.
Dungannon will not be a straightforward city to go to, nevertheless it’s a part of a two-hour loop from Norton that features a few different stops. It takes about 30-40 minutes to drive to Dungannon alongside U.S. Freeway 58 Alternate and Dungannon Highway.
The CSX Santa Practice stops close to a pointy bend within the street close to the center of the unincorporated city. The perfect place to park is close by Dungannon Elementary College – it’s a few five-minute stroll from there. Curiously, you possibly can stand on a bridge the place Sinking Creek Freeway crosses the railroad and watch the Santa Practice cross beneath.
Fort Blackmore, VA
Fort Blackmore is likely one of the best locations to see the CSX Santa Practice but additionally one of the crucial tough locations for parking. The freeway crosses the railroad and Clinch River. Park wherever alongside the street’s shoulder at both finish of the bridge and stroll alongside Islandview Circle to the purpose the place the Santa Practice stops.
There may be loads of room for folks on the cease, and it’s a safer place from the principle freeway.
Copper Creek Viaduct in Duffield, VA
The perfect view of the CSX Santa Practice is from an overgrown scenic overlook alongside U.S. Freeway 23 in Duffield. After the prepare passes by way of a tunnel, it crosses the spectacular Copper Creek Viaduct. In-built 1908, the trestle is 167 toes above the Clinch River and spans 1,091 toes.
Whereas crossing the historic trestle, Santa often seems for keen onlookers on the scenic overlook.
The one cease the CSX Santa Practice makes in Tennessee can be the ultimate cease. It’s the very best place to see the Santa Practice on its journey from Kentucky. There may be loads of free parking all through downtown Kingsport and loads of room in Centennial Park to benefit from the prepare.
CSX Santa Practice in Kingsport, TN
The festivities in Kingsport begin lengthy earlier than the CSX Santa Practice arrives. Santa’s Depot opens at 1 p.m. in Centennial Park, a small public park close to Residents Financial institution within the former prepare depot. Vacation actions embrace writing letters to Santa and crafts. Take pleasure in sizzling chocolate, cookies, and festive music whereas ready for Santa’s arrival.
The CSX Santa Practice arrives in Kingsport at 3 p.m. Upon arrival, an unbelievably chipper Santa Claus exits the prepare and visits everybody on the park.
Once I was a child, Santa would exit the prepare and hop onto the final float of the Kingsport Christmas Parade. That modified a number of years in the past. Now, the parade is held on the primary Saturday in December.
Suggestions for Seeing the CSX Santa Practice
It’s straightforward to get wrapped up within the festive spirit and neglect that the CSX Santa Practice is an enormous piece of equipment trudging alongside railroad tracks. CSX staff and native police spare no effort to make it a secure expertise. However you continue to have to look earlier than you cross!
Listed here are a number of tricks to take advantage of seeing the CSX Santa Practice:
- Plan to reach an hour earlier than the prepare to discover a good parking spot
- Park your automobile so that each one 4 tires are off the paved street
- Don’t block any driveways when parking
- Look fastidiously earlier than crossing roads – don’t assume site visitors will cease simply since you step into the street
- Watch out when crossing over railroad tracks
- Take heed to the directions from CSX staff when the prepare arrives and departs
- By no means stand in entrance of the locomotive, even when it’s parked
- It’s extra vital to be secure than to take a selfie
- Youngsters sitting in your shoulders have the very best probability of catching toys