Travel back in time almost 20 years and see the annual CSX Santa Claus Train on the former Clinchfield – with a big Challenger taking the lead! Santa’s Challenger was a November 1992 train that showed remarkable cooperation between the UP and CSX. Challenger 3985 traveled from Wyoming to Kentucky and Tennessee to power the annual Santa Claus train. 3985 was renumbered and relettered in Huntington, West Virginia as Clinchfield 676 since the UP and Clinchfield engines were nearly identical. Our coverage shows the preparations in Kingsport the day before the Santa train operation, which includes loading the goodies on the train. Then we see the train depart heading north. The main event of course is the next day as we see the Santa Train in all its glory powered by the largest steam engine in the world.
On the rear platform of the train is Santa and his helpers and they throw gifts and candy off the rear of the moving train to folks along the route between Shelby, Kentucky and Kingsport, Tennessee. There are stops made at some towns, like St. Paul where we get some good views of the action and Santa. NBC TV also did a story about this train, and Joe Garagiola was on the rear for part of the train trip throwing out goodies. The NBC story aired on Christmas Day in 1992. Mountain scenery is also a part of the trip with several tunnels and bridges along the way.