Experience magic this holiday season with the 1880 Train’s Holiday Express. This Christmas-themed journey transports passengers from Hill City to the “North Pole.

Guests board the 1956 Diesel Locomotive in festive attire (including pajamas) and are greeted by staff dressed as elves.

The one-hour round trip begins with hot chocolate and sugar cookies made from Mrs. Claus’s special recipe. When the passengers are all bundled up and settled in, the host will read excerpts from author Sean Covel’s book, “Marlon McDoogle’s Magical Night.

“The book tells the story of a young boy and his grandfather who enjoy a Christmas evening of magic, Santa Claus, and the 1880 Train,” said Nate Anderson, business operations manager.

Anderson adds that “Marlon McDoogle’s Magical Night” is available as an add-on purchase with tickets or in 1880 Train’s gift shop. Guests who have purchased the physical copy will have a sense of familiarity while riding the Holiday Express.

“Many of the train personalities in the book are based on our actual conductors and engineers who work with us,” said Anderson. “Children will be able to recognize their likenesses while riding the Holiday Express.”

Upon arriving at the North Pole, passengers will see a series of illuminated and colorfully-painted buildings that line Santa’s Village. Santa waves to the guests outside of his workshop, creating a special moment for guests and staff.

“It is something special when all of the kids holler and shout when they see the ‘Big Man’ waiting for us there,” said Anderson.

Santa joins Mrs. Claus and his elves on the train back to greet children and families while taking photos along the way. As the journey comes to an end, children are gifted a candy cane and a small silver jingle bell.

Along with the standard Holiday Express ticket, the 1880 Train offers two variants of the Holiday Express for guests to choose from: the Holiday Express First Class and the Holiday Express Spiked.

The First Class variant offers an elevated experience in the Hilyo Caboose and Rochford Train Car.

Holiday Express Dates

December 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 22-24, 27-28

Holiday Express First Class

December 17-18, 22-24

Holiday Express Spiked

December 3, 10-11, 17-18, 27-28

In addition to receiving a commemorative 1880 Train passengers can enjoy unlimited hot chocolate with delicious toppings, like whipped cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles. Every child is gifted a unique first-class jingle bell and extra time with Santa Claus.

Additional waitstaff and small tables are available to provide that First Class experience.

The Spiked Ride is an option for passengers 21 and up looking for jovial fun and has been popular for holiday parties.

In an 1880 Train keepsake mug, passengers can choose from Peppermint or Butterscotch Schnapps-spiked hot chocolate. Spiked guests will be able to enjoy everything received in the traditional Holiday Express ride, including a visit from Santa Claus.

Anderson shares that the Holiday Express creates a one-of-a-kind experience for guests.

“The trains are pretty packed, and everyone is dressed up in their festive sweaters and jammies,” said Anderson. “It’s more of a party atmosphere compared to our summertime rides.”

The 1880 Train offers more than holiday joy with various special-themed train rides offered all year round. From June to October, visitors can experience special events like the Old West Shootout, Wine Express, and Oktoberfest Express.

The Old West Shootout operates every Sunday afternoon from mid- June to Labor Day. During this ride, passengers are in the midst of a faux shootout performed by a local reenactment group. Passengers watch as thieves hide precious treasure and are stopped by cowboys, saving the day.

The Wine Express operates during the first full weekend of September. The two-hour ride allows passengers to indulge in local wines, paired with a variety of meals including Charcuterie Boxes, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, and Carrot Cake.

The Oktoberfest Express operates the last weekend of September or the first weekend of October. In 2023, the Oktoberfest Express will take place on September 30.

On board, guests are served a Bratwurst with an assortment of toppings, like sauerkraut and grilled onions. This is all paired with local German Potato Salad, a Bavarian-themed dessert, and a sampling of three beers.

The 1880 Train’s most popular ride, however, is the traditional train ride that is offered from May through October. With round trip and one-way departure trips available from Hill City and Keystone, passengers will learn about the history of the Black Hills, railroads, and mines.

Following the hour ride, passengers have the option to have a quick turnaround time of 15 minutes or stay for a few hours of adventure. Guests who decide to stay have the opportunity to sightsee and peruse local shops and restaurants. Anderson says this option is very popular for families.

“We have families that will take the first train to Keystone and spend their entire day there until the last train out,” said Anderson.

With both depots located in the heart of their respected downtown district, Anderson says they encourage the exploration of local businesses.

No matter the ride, the 1880 Train is a must for children and adults alike to see the Black Hills from a different perspective.

“A lot of kids and adults have never been on a train ride before,” said Anderson. “There’s a lot of excitement behind riding a train and hearing the diesel and whistle. It’s just a unique experience.”

For more information, visit VISITHILLCITYSD.COM.


Facebook Comments