WORTH THE DRIVE: Hop aboard railroad tour of Hocking Valley with Santa Claus

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers tours of the Hocking Valley on historical trains. CONTRIBUTED

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The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers tours of the Hocking Valley on historical trains. CONTRIBUTED

In search of a day trip that will entertain the whole family this holiday season? The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway might have the answer.

For the past few decades, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has offered a unique way to traverse the idyllic landscapes of Nelsonville, Hocking Hills, Athens and the surrounding area. Each weekend, guests are able to board a historic train at the Nelsonville Depot and embark upon train rides to see sights like an old canal lock from the Hocking Canal, the remains of the Nelsonville Brick Company, the original depot at Haydenville and more.

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Over 140 years ago, in 1867, construction began on what was then called the Columbus & Hocking Valley Railroad, a stretch of railroad tracks between Columbus and the Hocking Valley that was used to transport the area’s salt and coal to other portions of the state. Now, guests can ride along these historically significant tracks in trains that were built using historic equipment from the early 20th century. This historic equipment includes a “combination baggage-passenger car (with working coal stove in the winter; no A/C) built for a Baltimore & Ohio predecessor in 1917; three commuter coaches built around 1923 and 1927 for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (heated in winter; no A/C); a day coach built in the 1930s for the Baltimore & Ohio (car has A/C and heat); and two converted freight cars used as open-air passenger cars,” according to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s website.

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s longest-running annual event, the Santa Train, departs from the Nelsonville Depot and travels round trip from East Logan and back each Saturday and Sunday from now until Dec. 19. As its name suggests, the Santa Train features a special appearance by Santa Claus, along with a breathtaking trip through Hocking Hills. Even adults will feel the holiday spirit while riding the train that is decorated and playing holiday music over the train’s audio system. Train rides take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., along with a special evening departure at 6 p.m.

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Tickets to ride on the Santa Train can be purchased by visiting the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s website. Tickets are $21 per adult, $16 per child over the age of three and $17 per senior or member of the military. The Santa Train is an incredibly popular event, so be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as possible.

Guests will board each train ride at the Nelsonville Train Depot, located at 33 W Canal Street in Nelsonville. This location is also where the train ride ends. Important notice: there are no restrooms aboard the trains and the locomotives rock side to side throughout the ride.

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More information about the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s Santa Train can be found by visiting the railroad company’s website.

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