Doe River Gorge Ministries’ ‘The Christmas Train’ gets construction boost, announces plans for fall 2025 opening

Published 1:01 pm Friday, June 7, 2024

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By Lynn J. Richardson

With a goal of opening on November 29, 2025, work on the upcoming Christmas Train project at Doe River River Gorge is in full swing, while fundraising efforts continue to complete the project.

Organizers say The Christmas Train will become an annual event that could draw as many as 1,000 visitors per night for the 20-night season. The project “will transform Doe River Gorge into a magical winter wonderland, complete with Christmas decorations, lights, food and festivities,” while the train ride itself will focus on “the story of Christmas that will be told from the creation of the world to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

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The Christmas Train program just received a boost as Carpenters for Christ – Southeast, a group of skilled carpenters known for their service to Christ through volunteer efforts, has arrived in the area and is hard at work, says Doe River Gorge president and founder Terry Maughon.

“There have literally been hundreds of people in our community involved in bringing this project to reality,” Maughon said. “Currently, there are approximately 80 volunteer workers that are here helping us complete our 15,000-square-foot train station/multi-purpose building. These men are all skilled laborers and come from approximately 15 states to do a project once a year.

“We are honored they selected Doe River Gorge and The Christmas Train project,” he added. “It is like an Amish barn raising.”

Carpenters for Christ, a volunteer organization that combines their passion for carpentry with their commitment to Christ, is playing a crucial role in the construction and assembly of the multipurpose building that will be used by the Doe River Gorge camp during the summer months and The Christmas Train from Thanksgiving till Christmas. The group of volunteers will be working on the building over the next two weeks.

Mitch Cox Construction is the lead contractor on the project and is providing most of the construction services. The Carpenters for Christ are teaming with Mitch Cox Construction by providing volunteer carpentry services on this project. Their volunteer services are estimated to save Doe River Gorge over $100,000 in labor costs in this building’s construction.

“We are thrilled to be part of such a meaningful project,” said Perry Lee, spokesperson for Carpenters for Christ. “Our team is passionate about using our skills to serve Christ, and The Christmas Train at Doe River Gorge is a wonderful opportunity to share the birth of Christ with the community while allowing families to establish a new Christmas family tradition.”

Maughon says The Christmas Train initiative will bring “festive cheer and joy to the community during the Christmas season as the true meaning of Christmas is shared.”

“We will be seeking 100 volunteers per night throughout the area to help carry out this event,” Maughon added. “We believe it will be an economic boon to the entire Northeast Tennessee area.” 

Community members are encouraged to support The Christmas Train project by volunteering, donating, or simply attending and enjoying the festivities. For more information on how to get involved, please visit

For more information about Carpenters for Christ, please contact

Perry Lee (601) 955-6753

About Doe River Gorge: The mission of Doe River Gorge is to inspire and equip people to be passionate followers of Christ. The property was purchased in 1987 and has been developed over 30 years by the grace of God and the hard work of hundreds of staff and volunteers. Doe River Gorge started summer camps in 1995. Presently, Doe River Gorge hosts 10 weeks of summer camp, a 9-month gap year program for college-aged individuals, various retreats to private groups, and school field trips. Doe River Gorge is also engaged in constant conservation efforts to maintain the hundreds of acres of pristine wilderness under its protection.