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world. Even country music star Patty Loveless—a native of Elkhorn City— recorded a song, “Santa Train,” cele- brating the train and what it means to the area. Anticipation builds in the weeks before the train runs, as the schedule is posted in the local Food City grocery store, and stories begin ap- pearing in the local media. Since its inception in 1942, scores of children, parents in tow, have flocked trackside every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. As this was, of course, during World War II, the train was also seen as a morale booster for folks in this outlying area of the home front. Originally, the Santa Train oper- ated on Clinchfield’s regular south- bound passenger train, No. 38. With the cessation of Clinchfield passenger service in 1954, the Santa Claus Spe- cial came into its own dedicated opera- tion. For a period in the 1970s, the San- ta Train was powered by diminutive 4-6-0 No. 1, known affectionately as “One Spot,” followed by several years of being pulled by F-units in a variety of paint schemes from Clinchfield to Fam- ily Lines to Seaboard System and final- ly CSX. “Clinchfield” power of a sort pulled the 1992 Santa Train, thanks to CSX’s extraordinary borrowing of Union Pacific Challenger No. 3985. In celebration of the 50th running of the Santa Claus Special, 3985 was done up as Clinchfield 676, one number higher than the CRR’s last 4-6-6-4 of its own, number 675.


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