ELGIN, OREGON__The Friends of the Joseph Branch and Wallowa Union Railroad have announced this year’s schedule for the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. The plan was approved recently by the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority at their January meeting in Wallowa. This is the third year the Friends of the Joseph Branch, a non-profit organization, will operate the train and manage the Elgin Depot.
Following a tradition started ten years ago, the Mother’s Day Brunch opens the season, departing from the Elgin Depot at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 10.
“This trip gives passengers the opportunity to enjoy the lush spring scenery and enjoy a delicious brunch. It is always popular with people from out of the area and residents alike,” said Ed Spaulding, Friends of the Joseph Branch President. “It’s a great way to kick off the season.”
Spaulding noted the non-profit organization has started planning equipment maintenance and volunteer activities. The group will be offering first aid training to its volunteers in April.
“One of our members, Dick Burch, applied for a grant to upgrade our first aid equipment and train volunteers in the types of medical emergencies that could happen while the train is away from the depot,“ Spaulding said. One of the items included in the grant is a defibrillator. “We are very grateful for the assistance Dick has given us. He rode the train almost every trip last season and will again ensure a trained first aid person is on board each trip in case a passenger or crew member needs medical attention.”
This year’s line-up includes a free ride for veterans on July 4th, a dinner mystery train, two train robberies, and a wine and cheese train. Other highlights involve a hatchery tour, a photo workshop, and the Boo Train on Halloween. Another option in the planning stages for October is offering people the chance to pedal a Joseph Branch Railrider from Elgin to Rondowa, then catch the train for a ride back. All rides include a meal, but the beautiful canyon and river scenery is always the focal point.
The train is based in Elgin, operating out of the Elgin Depot, where a gift shop, rest rooms and ample parking are available. Excursions use a section of track along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers between Elgin and Minam. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are purchased through Alegre Travel, train@alegretravel.com or 800.323.7330. Ticket agents are well informed about the trips and can also book motel rooms and offer advice on other activities and attractions in the area.
The historic Joseph Branch, now known as the Wallowa Union Railroad, was rescued from salvage in 2003 when the Wallowa and Union County governments formed a partnership and purchased the highly scenic railroad and limited rolling stock. The Friends of the Joseph Branch is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that assists the rail authority by operating the excursion train, hosting passengers, restoring the rail cars and preserving the history of the railroad. See the web site for information about how to join the Friends JB and volunteer to assist with train activities.
Sunday, May 10 Mother’s Day Brunch
Saturday, June 13 Elgin Riverfest Depot Open House & Railroad Movie Night (no train ride)
Saturday, June 20 Elgin Stampeders’ Train Robbery
Saturday, July 4 I Love America Veteran’s Train (Veterans ride for free and may bring one guest for just $35)
Saturday, July 18 Mystery Dinner Train
Saturday, August 1 Two Rivers Bonus
Saturday, August 15 Two Rivers Bonus
Saturday, Aug. 29 Lookingglass Fish Hatchery Tour
Saturday, Sept. 12 Wine & Cheese Train
Saturday, Sept. 26 Railroad History Train & Depot Open House
Saturday, Oct. 3 Gold Rush Bandits Autumn Train Robbery
Saturday, Oct. 10 Two Rivers Fall Foliage Photography Train
Saturday, Oct. 17 Two Rivers Fall Foliage
Saturday, Oct. 24 Two Rivers Fall Foliage
Saturday, Oct. 31 Boo Train
Full trip descriptions are available at the train website: www.eaglecaptrainrides.com