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Moment of Indiana History

Nothing Says Christmas Like a Train

A fixture in the American imagination--and Hoosier history--railroads in Indiana offer nostalgic festivities during the holiday season

A fixture in the American imagination–and Hoosier history–railroads in Indiana offer nostalgic festivities during the holiday season. From model train shows to riding the rails with Santa nothing better says Christmas in Indiana.

The railroad first came through Indiana in 1847, and soon rendered canal transportation obsolete. Within three years, railroads had expanded tenfold in the state. Every cross-country rail line passed through Indiana, allowing for the growth of the state’s signature industries–from coal and limestone to furniture, caskets, and the circus.

The Indiana Rail Road pays homage to the state’s railroad heritage. Formed after the industry’s deregulation, the IRR rehabilitated an abandoned line to provide freight service from Chicago to Louisville, and Indianapolis to Newton, Illinois. Its red-and-white cars are a natural vehicle for Santa and Mrs. Claus, who wave from the locomotive to those gathered in towns along the tracks in early December.

In addition, the Indiana Rail Road has partnered with the Eiteljorg Museum to present Jingle Rails Great Western Adventure. An elaborate model train steams through a landscape featuring Indianapolis landmarks from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument to Union Station, en route to Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.

Finally, there’s the chance to board a train in Indiana bound for the North Pole. Trains leaving Fishers, Richmond, and Connersville offer evening excursions through the countryside to meet Saint Nick.

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