This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
In years past, Santa and his helpers would throw out


goodies anywhere


along the line where they spotted chil- dren and well-wishers. Today, candy and other gifts are thrown from the back of the train—only while the train is stopped—at specific gift stops. The length of time spent at each gift stop is proportional to the size of the crowd. Additionally, Santa’s “Elves” will walk through the crowds at the stops, hand- ing out gender and age-specific gift bags for the children; approximately 5000 of these gift bags are distributed during each run of the Santa Train. The Elves also give rolls of wrapping paper to the adults that have gathered. Bundled against the frost and the


cold, in hats, scarves, and coats of all colors, crowds gather at these “gift stops” well in advance of the train’s ar- rival. For many, the train’s annual trek through this corner of the Appalachi- ans signals the beginning of the Christ- mas season. There is a tension of ex- pectancy in the air; the excitement is palpable.


For the railfan, not only is there the


appeal of chasing a “passenger” train on the Clinchfield, but also the attrac- tion of photographing older power in the lead on this typically all-a.c. trac- tion route. Santa Train engineers es- chew the wide-cab SD70s and CW44s that dominate the Clinchfield, prefer- ring the better visibility provided by older, “standard cab” locomotives. In recent years, the power has typically been an SD40-2, with CSX’s “executive” F40PH’s tucked in behind for head end power; in 2010, the train was pulled by an SD50 and a single F40PH. While the railfan photographer is no doubt most interested in the locomo- tives and the scenic route through which they pull the Santa Train, it should be mentioned that there is also photographic appeal in the gaggles of people that meet the train at each gift stop. The real photographs are found with the crowds, in the giving, and in the faces of the children. Magic rides the rails when this train makes its run, and there’s a great spirit that runs through these crowds, and you’d have to be a close relation of Scrooge or the Grinch not to have your heart warmed


TOP: Rolling over the McClure River and Route 63, Santa waves to photographers gathered at the Clinchco, Va., post office on November 22, 2008. A little snow on the ground


helps add to the holiday spirit.


MIDDLE: In a classic Clinchfield scene, No- vember 18, 2006, finds the Santa Claus Spe- cial passing the Union Baptist Church in Dante, Va. RIGHT: A famous Clinchfield pho- to spot is Log Cabin Curve (also known as Os- borne’s Curve) just north of Dungannon, Va. SD50 No. 8506 leads the 2010 Santa Train on November 20, 2010.


40 DECEMBER 2011 • RAILFAN.COM


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68