ELGIN, OREGON__Rumor has it, the train robbers are at it again, planning a heist on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train during its next trip, Saturday, June 15; just in time for Father’s Day. A notorious gang of bandits associated with the Elgin Stampeders robs the train near Elgin about this time every year, leaving passengers in stitches and outlaws on the loose. The robbery takes place while the train is passing through a remote section of the Grande Ronde River. Passengers can expect lots of laughs as horseback-riding robbers stop the train and climb on board. Expertly performed by experienced cowboys and cowgirls, the robbery includes the rescue of the outlaw Stella Rose from the clutches of the law. Warning, you just can’t trust anyone! Have your camera handy.
The Elgin Stampeders organization is responsible for putting on the annual Elgin Stampede PRCA Rodeo in mid-July. They use the annual train robbery to promote the rodeo. This year, the train ride falls during the annual Elgin Riverfest, providing all the more reason to plan a visit to the friendly town beside the Grande Ronde. Riverfest includes craft and food vendors, a car show, entertainment and lots of fun activities throughout the day.
The Eagle Cap Excursion Train departs at 10 a.m. from the Elgin Depot and returns around 2 p.m. Passengers have plenty of time for relaxation, visiting and enjoying the view as they travel down the Grande Ronde River and a few miles up the Wallowa River. Lunch is served on the train after a brief stop along the river to let passengers stretch their legs while the crew prepares for the return trip to Elgin. Ticket prices are: youth, 3 to 16 = $40 / adults = $75 / seniors 60+ = $70. Lunch is prepared by Ten Depot Street and included in the ticket price. For train tickets, details on the excursions and lodging options, contact Alegre Travel, 1.800.323.7330 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be asked to choose a sandwich, salad or vegetarian lunch, which includes a dessert and beverage, when you purchase your tickets.
The scenic train season continues through mid-October. The train departs from Elgin on selected Saturdays and travels through remote river canyons that can’t be seen from any road. Towering ridges, basalt cliffs, deep green forests and sparkling water are the scenic highlights. Wildlife and waterfowl are also plentiful. Excursions travel 38 miles, round trip. Friendly volunteer car hosts answer questions and point out landmarks or wildlife along the way. Go to www.eaglecaptrainrides.com for the full schedule and additional information about the train and surrounding attractions.
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 the Wallowa Union Rail Authority and purchased the highly scenic 63 miles of railroad between Elgin and Joseph. Passenger excursions have been offered on sections of the line since 2004. Volunteers with the Friends of the Joseph Branch, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, operate the train, host passengers, restore the passenger cars and preserve the history of the railroad.