"A shrinking supply of boxcars--once the ubiquitous symbols of U.S.
railroads and a rolling bellwether for the economy--is causing a
freight-hauling crunch for the industries that continue to use them.
The number of boxcars in service in North America fell by 41% in
the past decade to just under 125,000 last year as 101,600 cars were
scrapped and only about 13,800 replacement were added."
After Thanksgiving the CSX Office Car Special is used as the CSX Santa Train in NE Tennessee
and SE Kentucky.
THE CSX SANTA TRAIN
SERVES CLINCHFIELD COUNTRY
By Jack M. Turner
Photos By John C. Turner
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving the sounds of gleeful
children fill the small communities and hollows of rural Appalachia as the
annual CSX Santa Train makes its way from Shelby, KY to Kingsport, TN.
At each stop Santa Claus makes his appearance on the rear platform of the
last car from which he and a handful of volunteers toss candy and soft toys
to the crowd of children encircling the back end of the train. Meanwhile,
several other volunteers detrain and walk among the crowd distributing gifts,
wrapping paper, and other goodies.
Clinchfield Railroad ran the first Santa Train in 1943
in conjunction with the predecessor to today's Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.
Initially the Santa Train consisted of a couple of extra cars added to the
rear of the local passenger train that served the route between Kingsport
and Elkhorn City, KY. When the scheduled passenger train ceased operation
in the mid-1950s, the Santa Train continued as its own special train.
The idea behind the Santa Train was to give to the children of the impoverished
Appalachia region north of Kingsport which was connected by the railroad.
The Santa Train marched on when the Clinchfield was absorbed into the Family
Lines rail system in the 1970s and later the Seaboard System in 1982.
And when the CSX mega-railroad was formed in 1986, the tradition lived on
in magnificent fashion.
Was watching the Folkston webcam and listening to the scanner Friday evening and heard the defect detector (DD) north of town announce a train that had all the characteristics of Amtrak but I knew it couldn't be. Train number P901-29 There was some interesting chat and pretty soon it came into view with locomotive 9998 lead followed by passenger cars. I asked what it was and the folks in the chatroom said it was an OCS. I looked it up and discovered it was the CSX Office Car Special. When it went through the DD south of town at A610.6 I copied the following: No defects, #1 track, length 1980 ft., 74 mph and 58 axles. Lead engine was 9998, an EMD F40PH-2 (one of four at CSX).
A couple of neat videos. Note the last car with the huge window on the back. That is the theater car and the second video shows it from the inside.
The following information on the individual cars from here:
Georgia - Theatre / observation car - Originally built as a 58
seat coach for the Crescent by Budd in 1953. Named the Georgia in
1993. Car was rebuilt as a track observation car by Waycross shops.
- Power car - Built about 1950 by Pullman-Standard as a dining car.
L&N acquired the car and rebuilt as an electrical power car about
1980. This car also contains four office car-quality staterooms and a
Youngstown - Crew car - Built in 1954 by
Pullman for the Erie Railroad as a five double bedroom / 10 roomette
sleeper. The car was originally named the "Spirit of Youngstown.
Youngstown was conveyed to Conrail on April 1, 1976 and renumbered to CR
11. Passed to CSX in 1999.
Mississippi - Sleeper - The
Mississippi was built in 1923 by Pullman as a tourist car. The Southern
acquired the car in 1954 and converted it into a coach. Conrail
acquired the car in 1983 amd renumbered it CR 24. It was converted into
an eight stateroom sleeper car in 1980 and renumbered CR 8. Passed to
CSX in 1999.
Waycross - Sleeper - Built by Pullman in 1926
as a private car and owned by W.R. Kenan, president of the FEC.
Purchased by C&O in 1943 and later included in the track teometry
train for road inspections. After creation of CSX, the car was renamed
Waycross and modified into three one bedroom suites.
York - Observation / diner - Car was built in 1925 by Pullman as a
parlor observation car for service on New York Central's Empire State
Express. Renamed the Hudson River, it served the Empire State Express
into the early 1930's when a large rear platform was constructed to
accomodate President Franklin D. Roosevelt's wheelchair. In 1942, the
car was renamed Kalamazoo River and it served on the Twilight Limited.
In 1952 it was converted to a track inspection car No. 30 and then
renumbered to 76 by Penn Central in 1976. The car was part of the
funeral train for slain presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.
- Lounge/Diner - Built by Pullman for the Illinois Central about
1915-1920. CSX predecessor SCL acquired the car in 1985. The car was
completely rebuilt at Waycross shops with a dining seating capacity of
24, lounge seating capacity for 12 and a stand up bar.
- Cafe/lounge/diner - Built by Pullman as a 52 seat coach in 1957. Car
was originally named the Southerner and used in a variety of excursion
services prior to being acquired by CSX in 2008. Interior was rebuilt
at Waycross shops to simulate a former L&N car, #3001.
- Diner - Built by Budd in 1948 as a diner/theater car with a seating
capacity of 52. The car was originally intended for use on C&O's
new daytime streamliner, The Chessie. Car was purchased by CSX in 2008,
refurbished and renamed Ohio.
Michigan - Meeting car -
Built by Budd in 1951 for the PRR as a lightweight parlor/drawing room
car named the Baron De Kalb and assigned to The Senator. It was later
used for first class service on the Boston-New York-Washington
corridor. Rebuilt by Penn Central into a galley/club car in 1968.
Acquired by Conrail in 1976 and converted to a meeting/boardroom car in
1980. It became part of the CSX fleet in 1999 and was renamed Michigan.
Virginia - Observation - Built as an Army hospital car in 1953 by St.
Louis Car Company, this car was later acquired by Chessie System. The
car has a small lounge, two roomette style sleeping rooms and a large
open room. For all but two days each year, the car serves as a
conference/reception car. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the West
Virginia is transformed into Santa's "sleigh" as tons of gifts are
loaded aboard and distributed along a 110 mile route through Appalachia.