Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day, and the traditional opening day for the Eagle Cap Excursion Train’s 2017 season. The Mother’s Day Brunch is always a popular trip, as passengers find it a good way to celebrate the holiday while enjoying the beautiful spring scenery along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers.
The Mother’s Day trip features brunch, prepared by Ten Depot Street, of La Grande, and served on the train during the trip. The menu includes a wonderful medley of breakfast and lunch entrée items, salads, fresh fruit, pastries and beverages. The train departs at 10 a.m., Mother’s Day, from the depot in Elgin.
“We have small gifts to honor the oldest mother and the mother who has travelled the furthest to ride,” said Ed Spaulding, President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch. “Our volunteers decorate the cars to add to the festive atmosphere.”
Reservations are required and are available through the online booking service on the website,; go to “Ride the Train” and select “Book Online” from the drop-down menu. Passengers who prefer to talk to an agent can call Alegre Travel, the excursion train reservations agency, 800.323.7330. Agents can also, upon request, book motel rooms and offer advice on other activities and attractions in the area.
Spaulding said the 2017 season includes some new trips, including a Wine & Chocolates Train, which features wines from Tero Estates Winery and chocolates from Petits Noirs Chocolates, both Milton-Freewater businesses.
Also new is a train ride designed for railroad photographers, with special stops to provide photographers, with excellent views of the train as it passes by. See the website for trip descriptions and the full schedule.
Passenger train excursions use the section of track from Elgin to Minam. This section travels through mostly roadless country, staying north of Oregon Highway 82 to Enterprise, also known as the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Volunteers with the Friends of the Joseph Branch, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, manage the excursion business for Wallowa Union Railroad, operating the train and hosting passengers, as well as restoring the rail cars and preserving the history of the railroad. See the web site, for the full 2017 excursion schedule and information about how to join the Friends and volunteer to assist with train activities.