Perspectives: Santa Train

Alyssa Keown

Christmas came early for 14 Appalachian mountain towns on Nov. 19 via a beloved southern tradition called the Santa Train. 

Families crowded the tracks that run through their towns on in the crisp November air and watched as Santa Claus came by on a train, waving to those eager to get their hands on a present.

Volunteers, including Santa himself, tossed stuffed animals, school supplies and food off to young children bundled in coats reaching up to the sky while sitting a top their parent’s shoulders.

Older generations stood back to enjoy the tradition of seeing the train and their communities coming together. 

“I’ve watched it every year,” said Tony Taylor, 50, a resident of the train’s eighth stop in Dante, Virginia. “It used to be the only Christmas some kids would get.” 

The tradition marks 74 years in 2016, thanks to the help of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Food City, Dignity U Wear and CSX, who all sponsor the Santa Train.

Alyssa Keown is a photographer, contact her at [email protected].