The 1880 Train in Hill City is celebrating its 65th birthday this year. In the two-hour, 20-mile round-trip between Hill City and Keystone, passengers can enjoy views of Black Elk Peak and mining encampments while having good, old-fashioned family-friendly fun.
The 1880 Train follows the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s to service the mines and mills between Hill City and Keystone.
The Black Hills Central Railroad operates three steam and two diesel engines throughout the season.
Nathan Anderson, business operations manager for the 1880 Train, explained some of the history of this important railroad.
“So, the Black Essential Railroad began in 1957,” said Anderson. “It was a couple of investors that wanted to preserve steam-powered trains and give that dream to the people forever. So, the history of the train making it 65 straight years, we’re in the top two in the nation for the longest continuously operating steam railroad in the nation. That’s really something we’re proud of, that we’ve been here in Hill City and Keystone operating back and forth all the way since 1957.”
According to Anderson, a lot of love and investment goes into the history of the equipment they operate with today.
“Beginning in 1990, our current ownership group, the Warder Family, purchased the train and then steadily reinvested in the equipment,” said Anderson. “The cars that you’ll see on the train today are all restored. There are ten of them that we operate currently. Today, they’ve restored them back. It takes almost a year and a half to two years to restore a wooden train car.”
The most recent train restoration took four and a half years to restore to operating status.
Join 1880 Train during upcoming events such as the Wine Express in September, Oktoberfest in October and the Holiday Express in November and December.
For more information about 1880 Train, visit their website here.