We have two depots, one in Hill City, and one in Keystone. The Hill City depot is the main station, but you can start your train ride at either end.
Our Hill City depot has a parking lot and passengers may park there free of charge. For the Keystone depot, city parking is available, but has a 3 hour time limit. The Borglum Story in Keystone also allows visitors to park in their lot all day for a fee of $5.00. We recommend Keystone passengers park at the Borglum Story.
A round trip train ride, which runs from one depot to the other and back, lasts approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. It is an hour ride each way, with a 15-minute turnaround time. The 11:15am and 5:00 pm Keystone round trip takes about 45 minutes longer because there is a lunch and dinner break in Hill City during these rides.
The central Black Hills is abundant with forests, meadows, and wooded canyons. Much of the train route follows Battle Creek, home to gold prospectors before and during the turn of the century. The train passes throughout National Forest Service on its way from station to station, and passengers can also see the remnants of old mines and mining operations. Some of these mining claims have been turned into residential land and some houses are visible from the train. County road 323, along with a few private drives, crosses the train tracks several times, giving passengers the opportunity to enjoy the sound of a steam whistle.
Many different kinds of woodland animals call the Black Hills home. Most often, passengers will see white tail deer, mule deer, wild turkey, wood chucks, mallard ducks, and cottontail rabbits. Passengers have reported also seeing mountain lion, bobcats, coyote, and elk, but they are a rare occurrence. Animals like buffalo are in the Black Hills, but they are confined to the boundaries of Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park.
Yes, the train ride is narrated by a host and a speaker system allows each car to hear their narration. This narration includes information about the train, the Black Hills, and also points out areas of interest along the route. A guide book is for sale at either depot as well as onboard the train. This guide book tells the history of the 1880 Train, includes technical information about the equipment, and has a section in which you can follow along with the train ride.
Yes! The train is enjoyed by passengers of all ages. There are many sights and sounds for your children to enjoy.
Our train sellers walk through the train during the ride selling soda, popcorn, and candy bars. Our Hill City station also has a snack bar that sells food such as sandwiches, hot dogs, soft pretzels, nachos, and ice cream. Both train stations' gift shops carry snacks and drinks. You are more than welcome to bring these foods onboard the train. Certain special event train rides include food and drinks served onboard the train. Please see the special events page for more information.
No, we do not have restroom facilities onboard the train. There are restrooms in Hill City, as well as Keystone Station, and passengers are onboard the train for about an hour at a time.
We only allow certified service animals onboard the train.
If your stroller can be collapsed, you may bring it onboard the train and a staff member will store it for you. You may also ask a gift shop staff member to store your stroller in the gift shop. Car seats may be brought onboard the train, but if it is a sold out train ride, you will need to hold the car seat or pay for the child riding in the car seat. Normally, children under the age of three ride for free, but when the train is sold out, they need to ride on an adult's lap or have a paid child's ticket ($12.00 each). Small sized coolers (approximately 9 QT or smaller in size) may be brought onboard the train, as long as they are kept under your seat and out of the aisle.
Regular priced train rides do not have assigned seats. Seats are based on first come, first served boarding. We recommend arriving at the depot to pick up your tickets and get in line to board no later than half an hour prior to departure. Certain special event train rides do have assigned seats, and your seat assignment will be given to you when you pick up your tickets. In the event of a sold out train ride, odd numbered parties may have a party member sitting with someone they don't know.
Train tickets may only be picked up the day of the train ride. Because of our ticketing system, we do not print tickets in advance. Tickets may be picked up as soon as the previous train departs. If you are riding on the first train of the day, in most cases, tickets may be picked up as soon as the gift shop opens. We recommend picking up tickets no later than half an hour prior to departure and reserve the right to cancel tickets not collected 15 minutes prior to departure. You may only collect tickets from the depot your train is departing from.
In 1957, the 1880 Train was started by a man named William Heckman. Heckman believed "there should be one working steam railroad, for boys of all ages who share America's fondness for the rapidly vanishing steam locomotive". He wanted a railroad that was reminiscent of one from the 1880's. The name stuck and the 1880 Train has been chugging through the Black Hills ever since. The 1880 Train is the oldest continuously operating tourist train!
Our train has both open and enclosed train cars. We run a varying combination of cars, depending on the time of year. Our train cars do not have air conditioning, but the enclosed cars do have windows you are welcome to open or close at your discretion. We recommend that if you dress to be comfortable outside, you will be plenty comfortable onboard the train. If you are not familiar with the climate in the Black Hills, be aware, we have very cool nights, so you may wish to pack a pair of pants, a pair of shoes besides sandals, and a sweatshirt or jacket.
A one way train ride (from one station to the other) is available, but the 1880 Train does not offer another form of transportation back to your vehicle. One way train rides work best for our passengers who have friends or family that can pick them up at the opposite depot.
No, you may spend time in the town if you would like. However, tickets are time specific so please note in the "comments" of your reservation (if made online) or tell the ticket agent (at the depot) what time you would like to return so that we are sure to save space for you on the correct train.
No, for our passenger's safety, we ask that all riders remain in their seat during the train ride. At the opposite station, passengers will have the opportunity to switch to a different seat if they wish.