Hill City, SD
It's an experience that transports visitors to the Black Hills back in time. The 1880 Train takes passengers on scenic rides between Hill City and Keystone.
The railroad helped build the Black Hills, so what better way to see them than from a steam locomotive?
"Both of our boys love trains, so we thought this is a must. This is something we had to do. We reserved our tickets a while ago already, so that we could make sure we got on it," 1880 Train passenger Elishema Elhard said.
"They like model trains, too. So this is something that's just like bringing it to life, real life," 1880 Train passenger Landon Elhard said. "And they get to see something they've always hoped to see."
Four-year-old Teagan Elhard and his year-and-a-half old brother Deklan are about to have their first train ride.
Derek: So you like trains, do you?
Derek: What's your favorite part about trains?
Teagan: Umm, I love the ding-ding!
The trip between Hill City and Keystone is ten miles and no matter what your age is, it's a ton of fun.
"The whistle is going to go, 'choo-choo!'" Teagan said.
"The whistle is going to be loud. Hopefully the boys don't freak out, but it should be a lot of fun," Landon said.
Once the train starts rolling, the questions begin. Teagan wonders why the train just slow down. The young boy's questions are followed by observations.
Teagan: We're taller than the trees and the cars!
Elishema: Look! We're almost as tall as those mountains.
The family even saw some wildlife.
"Ooh! The deer!" Teagan said.
At railroad crossings people wave from their cars as the train's passengers wave back.
About an hour after leaving Hill City, the train arrives in Keystone. The Elhards aren't shy about their reaction to the ride.
"I liked that choo-choo ride!" Teagan said.
"This was definitely a highlight," Landon said, as we talks about the looks on his sons' faces.
"And the whistles started going and they were whistling, so yeah, it was everything we were hoping it would be. They loved it," Elishema said.
The young mom doubts that her son's excitement will be short lived.
"Teagan is going to be talking about it forever. He's spent the last month waiting, counting the days until we got to go on the train. And every morning in the cabin it was, 'how many more sleeps until we get to go on the train?'" Elishema said.
Passengers can take a round-trip ride or just go one way to either Keystone or Hill City. For more information visit the 1880 Train's website.
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