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Union Pacific's Clinchfield Challenge
50th Anniversary of the Santa Claus Special
The Union Pacific Challenger 3985 made its first-ever venture east of the Mississippi River in November, 1992, as it traveled off line onto CSX rails. This historic event was prompted by the 50th running of the Santa Claus Special, a tradition of the former Clinchfield Railroad that is being carried on by the railroad's successor, CSX. Each year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the special train carries Santa Claus and his helpers as they toss candy and gifts to the children of the coal mining towns that line the route from Shelbiana, Kentucky, to Kingsport, Tennessee.
The Clinchfield Railroad at one time owned six of the big Challenger engines which were used to haul Appalachian coal. UP and CSX, in a joint effort, worked to bring a Challenger back onto Clinchfield rails again.
UP 3985 underwent a special lettering and numbering change for the event. Leaving Union Pacific rail in Memphis, Tennessee, the Challenger traveled to Huntington, West Virginia, where it was converted to "Clinchfield 676." Following the Santa Claus Special, "Clinchfield 676" ran an employee special out of Kingsport.
The Challenger is a sight to behold as it works up through the twisting, rugged Appalachian mountains. The sound of the steam whistle echoing through the hollows will take you back in time, and the coal mining towns along the route will remind you of another era in American railroading. Here is all the excitement of Union Pacific's Clinchfield Challenger for you to savor and enjoy.
120 Minutes - In Color with Live Stereo Sound and Narration
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