Fall Train Rides Offer Excitement With the Scenery

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train is welcoming fall with a lively mix of old-fashioned excitement and colorful autumn scenery. Rolling toward the end of another successful season, the Friends of the Joseph Branch has received word that a band of rascal bandits are once again planning a heist somewhere along the line Saturdays, October 7 and 14.

The Gold Rush Bandits make a habit of robbing trains in northeast Oregon.

The Gold Rush Bandits, also known for their disruptive activity along the Sumpter Valley Railroad, have robbed this train many times in the past, always getting away with lots of laughs and some priceless fake jewelry and coins.

Organizers say there will be rowdy cowboys and cowgirls, beautiful horses and plentiful photo opportunities when the bandits ride out of the woods and flag down the train. The conductor warns passengers to hide your valuables before they climb on board. The volunteer car hosts will provide decoy plunder and the bandits never seem to notice or care that they have been duped!

“We suspect they just like the excuse to ride fast and threaten innocents,” says one of the volunteer car hosts, a board member of the Friends of the Joseph Branch. “It’s all in good fun and makes for a memorable train ride for all of the passengers.”

Lunch on these trips has a Western flare, as well, with roast beef sandwiches on the menu, served with a side dish and dessert. (As always, a vegetarian option is available when you make your reservations.)

If a peaceful and relaxing ride is more to your liking, choose Saturday, October 21, the last ride of the season. The canyon scenery is always beautiful in October, ranging from brilliant colors early in the month, to soft tones contrasted by blue sky and dark forest green, as nature prepares for winter. Click Book Online and make your reservations today.

We thank our passengers and volunteers for making 2017 another great season for the train.

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Excursion Train Gears Up for Fall

ELGIN, OREGON__After taking August off, the Eagle Cap Excursion Train is gearing up for a busy autumn. Kicking off the fall season Saturday, September 2, guest speaker Ginny Mammen will talk with passengers about the history of the Joseph Branch Railroad, including some little known facts and photos of communities that once lined the track and left little trace when they closed down in the mid-20th century. Tickets range from $35 to $70 and include lunch on the train.

The Blue Mountain Land Trust fills two cars for the September 16 ride, a trip that has sold out. We welcome them on board.

Copper Belt Winery is featured for the Wine & Cheese Train, scheduled for September 30. Located 25 miles east of Baker City, Oregon, the winery is a family operation, producing wine from grapes grown in their own vineyard and at vineyards in the Snake River Valley, Willamette Valley and Columbia Valley AVAs. Started in 2010, Copper Belt opened a tasting room in Baker City’s historical downtown in 2016.

Travis Cook, winemaker at Copper Belt, looks forward to introducing their wines to people who may not have heard of the small winery and vineyard, which is surrounded by cattle ranches in the Keating Valley.

Brent and Yvonne Carroll of Umapine Creamery will be on the train, as well. Umapine is a small dairy and artisan cheese maker, located west of Milton-Freewater, Oregon. The Creamery has found lots of fans by selling their products at farmers markets and events in the region, as well as at the dairy.

This scenic train ride offers exceptional fall colors and provides a wonderful time to relax and unwind. Passengers will taste three Copper Belt Winery wines and a variety of cheeses from Umapine Creamery Passengers have the opportunity to meet the makers and learn about their creations. In addition, fresh fruit and bread will be served at each table.

This train departs from Elgin at 3 p.m. for the early evening ride, a time when the scenery is captivating and wildlife comes out of the shadows. It returns to the depot by 7 p.m. Tickets are $70 for Seniors and $75 for Adults.

Book online at www.eaglecaptrainrides.com or call 800.323.7330 to speak to a ticket agent.

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Family Friendly Trips Planned for August – CANCELLED

UPDATED: Unfortunately, we had to cancel these two train rides due to the dry weather and resulting risk of fire. We do this to comply with restrictions put in place by the Oregon Department of Forestry to protect our beautiful forests. Please see the schedule for other opportunities to ride the train.

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train is offering train rides designed just for vacationing families, Saturdays, August 5 and August 19. The rides are about half as long as our typical trip and they don’t include lunch, making them an affordable way to take along the whole family for a ride on the train. And, there is still plenty of time after the ride for you to explore and enjoy more of Wallowa and Union County recreation and attractions.

The rides depart from Minam, the tiny berg at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers, located about halfway between Elgin and Wallowa on Oregon Highway 82. The train follows the beautiful Wallowa River as it tumbles past tall timber and rugged basalt cliffs. The Wallowa River drains the high Wallowa Mountains, so river flow remains solid throughout the month of August. This stretch is roadless and designated a Wild & Scenic River by the federal government.

The train departs from the Minam boarding site at 9 a.m. and returns at 11 a.m. The trips take close to two hours, round trip – just right for restless kids. Snacks and beverages are available from the Minam Motel store, next to the boarding site, or in limited selection on the train.

Tickets for these short trips are just $15 for youth, ages 3 to 16; $25 for seniors; $30 for adults, and kids under three ride for free. Reservations are encouraged, but tickets are also available at the boarding site, the morning of the rides.

We hope to see you on the train this summer!

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Excursion Train Thanks Veterans

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train, Friends of the Joseph Branch, and Wallowa Union Railroad have some nice things happening July 1, to honor veterans. Please help us let veterans and their families know about the opportunity. Anderson Perry, Les Schwab Tires, and Wallowa Union Railroad are sponsors of the special ride:

Saturday, July 1 / I Love America Veterans’ Train
The weekend prior to Fourth of July is a great time to honor and thank the veterans who have made our freedom possible. The Eagle Cap Excursion Train is offering U.S. veterans, plus one guest each, a free train ride, Saturday, July 1. The first train departs from Elgin Depot at 10 a.m. and returns at noon. A second ride departs at 2 p.m., returning at 4 p.m. Additional passengers accompanying veterans must purchase tickets.

There are still seats available on both train rides. People need to call Alegre Travel to book, as reservations are not available for this ride online; 541.963.9000. Ticket prices for non-veterans are, Adults & Seniors = $35 / Youth, 3 to 16 = $25 (kids under 3 ride for free)

The Elgin FFA will serve a lunch of pulled pork, potato salad and chips for a cost of just $5, paid directly to them. The Friends of the Joseph Branch will provide free cookies from Subway and beverages. The picnic will be on the lawn of the Elgin Church of Latter Day Saints, across the street from the depot. There will be a short recognition of veterans at the picnic around 1 p.m., with WWII Veteran Bob Wiles on hand and in uniform, to give a small speech to thank all veterans.

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Excursion Train to Feature Wineries and Other Artisan Producers

The 2017 season of the Eagle Cap Excursion Train launched Sunday, May 14, with the annual Mother’s Day Brunch. Now we settle in for an active season that includes sixteen trips. Ed Spaulding, volunteer engineer and President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that manages the excursion train, expects a busy year for the train, as Oregon is receiving a lot of additional attention due in part to the solar eclipse in August. “People are planning trips to our area who may have never thought of visiting before,“ said Spaulding.

The 2017 season includes some new trips. A Wine & Chocolates Train, leaving the depot at 4 p.m., June 10, features a tasting of wines from Tero Estates Winery, expertly paired with chocolates from Petits Noirs Chocolates. Both businesses are located in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, at the south end of the Walla Walla Valley. September 30, the focus shifts to wine and cheese, with Copper Belt Winery of Baker City and Umapine Creamery, located near Milton-Freewater, serving samples of their specialties.

“We have created two train rides that call attention to the amazing food and beverages produced in our region,” said Janet Dodson, a board member who helps design the trips and schedule. “On the Wine & Chocolates Train, passengers will be served a light meal at the beginning of the trip and will have the opportunity to enjoy wine and chocolates during the return to the depot. During the Wine & Cheese ride, they enjoy and delicious selection of artisan cheeses, fruit and French bread, while tasting a variety of wines from the Keating Valley near Baker City.”

Also new in June is a train ride designed with train photographers in mind. The train will make special stops to let photographers off the train for run-bys, giving them excellent views of the train as it passes. This is a fun trip for all passengers, not just photographers.

August 5 and August 19, the route for the train rides will depend upon the weather which section of track is open. Watch for news on these two trips and check the trip descriptions and schedule pages for updates.

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Celebrate Mother’s Day on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train

Celebrity Inspired DressesSunday, 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 great 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 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, and returns at about 2:30 p.m.

“We have small gifts to honor the oldest mother and the mother who has traveled 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; select “Book Online” from the menu and follow the prompts to select the ride you want. Passengers who prefer to talk to an agent can call or stop by Alegre Travel, the excursion train reservations agency in downtown La Grande, 800.323.7330.

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. Meet the owners and taste their delicious creations.

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 trip descriptions and the full schedule for details.

Passenger train excursions use the section of track from Elgin to Minam.  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, www.eaglecaptrainrides.com for the full 2017 excursion schedule and information about how to join the Friends and volunteer to assist with train activities.

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The 2017 Schedule

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train thanks everyone who helped make the 2016 season a great success! During the off-season, we put together the schedule and trip descriptions for 2017, maintained equipment and made improvements. We announced the 2017 schedule in January and look forward to serving our passengers.

Take a look at the fun trips we have lined up and make your reservations!

In the meantime, the depot is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment. Stop by to enjoy the exhibits and visit with staff about the train and the railroad’s history.


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Friends of the Joseph Branch Plan Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that operates the excursion train business, upgrades the cars and manages the depot, will take place Saturday, November 19, at the Elgin Depot. The meeting begins at 11 a.m. and lunch is served at noon.

The agenda for the meeting includes the election of members of the board of directors, a review of the year, recognition of volunteers, and the chance for members to exchange ideas and discuss plans for 2017.

2016 has been a very successful year for the excursion train, with an average ridership of over 100. We thank the volunteers for all of their hard work and send our gratitude to the people who chose to ride the train. We invite anyone with a passion for trains, as well as those with special interest in the Joseph Branch Railroad, to become a member of the organization and to attend the meeting.

Please notify Sundae, eaglecaptraindepot@gmail.com, if you plan to attend. Lunch is free to members of the organization who have paid their 2016 dues and just $15 to non-members. Annual membership for individuals is just $30. You can join at any time for 2017.

Lunss prom dresses collection includes plenty of the best discount prom dresses, such as long prom dresses, strapless prom dresses, celebrity prom dresses and more.

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photo by Ed Spaulding

photo by Ed Spaulding

We were very pleased to see this wonderful article by Annie Charnley Eveland, published by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin September 25. It is always nice to hear from passengers about the train rides. We take pride in this operation and are grateful to the passengers and volunteers who make it successful.

October 29 is the last scheduled ride this season and there are seats available. Contact Alegre Travel, 800.323.7330 or train@alegretravel.com to talk to an agent, or go to Book Online to make your reservations.



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Local Food & Beverages are Highlighted on Rides This Fall

ELGIN, OREGON__ It has been a busy summer for the Eagle Cap Excursion Train and the fall season is upon us. We have some fun trips planned that are certain to get people’s attention.

The guest photographer on the Fall Foliage Photo Run is Eric Valentine, whose photos have graced many magazine covers, calendars and travel brochures. Eric will offer free photography tips in the dining car for people wanting to take professional quality photos. Passengers taking part in the casual photo workshop will have the first run-by at the Rondowa Bridge to themselves, giving them opportunity to use what they have learned. All passengers will be allowed off the train to photograph the second run-by. Lunch is served during the return leg of the trip.

We are very pleased to be working with Copper Belt Winery of Baker City and Umapine Creamery of Milton-Freewater for the Wine & Cheese Train, October 1. Copper Belt will offer samples of four of their most popular wines. Passengers may also choose a glass of their favorite. Umapine Creamery will serve a variety of their delicious farmstead cheeses, made at the dairy. Rounding out the food is fruit and baguette bread and a delectable chocolate from Peterson’s Gallery & Chocolatier of Baker City. This ride leaves the depot at 3 p.m., for a lovely evening beside the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers.

Tickets for the fall train robbery are selling fast, so don’t wait and miss out on this fun ride, October 8. The Gold Rush Bandits always deliver an exciting show, featuring beautiful horses and cranky robbers. This train departs the Elgin Depot at 10 a.m. for the 3.5 hour ride. Lunch is served during the return leg of the trip.

The Brews & Brats Train is another showcase for locally produced food and beverages. Terminal Gravity Brewing, the award-winning microbrewery in Enterprise, is our featured brewer. They will offer samples of their amazing beers. Joseph Trading Post makes the exceptional bratwurst and sauerkraut for the trip. The specialties will be accompanied by red potato salad and dessert made by Chuckwagon Sisters of Joseph. This trip is Saturday, October 15, departing the depot at 2 p.m. As with all of our rides, we recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure.

The last trip of the season is October 29. We are keeping our options open for this ride and will announce the theme and menu in mid-October. So stay tuned. We have had a good season and will be in a celebratory mood!

Don’t delay getting tickets – seats are limited to 120 for the Wine & Cheese and Brews & Brats trains and we expect them to sell out! Get tickets by clicking “Book Online” and follow the links, or contact Alegre Travel to talk with an agent, train@alegretravel.com or 800.323.7330.

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