Please see the SPECIAL NOTICE concerning booking reservations for the 2021 season.
“The Friends of the Joseph Branch Board of Directors was unable to operate in 2020, due to restrictions in place over the COVID-19 virus. “A majority of our passengers and volunteers are among the most vulnerable to the virus and our top priority is to provide a safe trip for all,” said Ed Spaulding, Board President. “We have spent the downtime upgrading track and equipment and planning safety measures that will allow us to operate again, beginning in July 2021. We will adhere to the requirement for passengers and crew to wear face masks, except when dining. There will be fewer seats available in order to keep the recommended social distancing during the trips. A special committee is carefully planning other cleaning and safety protocols that will be in place throughout the season. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy. We look forward to serving you soon. Thank you for your understanding and support.”
The tentative 2021 schedule is full of fun opportunities for a train ride beside the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers on the Wallowa Union Railroad, historically known as the Joseph Branch Railroad. Season highlights include train robberies by mounted bandits, a few mid-week runs and many wonderful chances to enjoy the colorful fall foliage.
Cab Rides Are New in 2021
New in 2021 is the opportunity to reserve a ride in the cab of the engine during the return leg of the trip. This is available to only one passenger each train ride and by reservation, only. Get the unique perspective from sitting in the engine, high above the track, and visit with the engineers for the entire ride back to Elgin. Your cab ride includes a special railroad cap, along with lunch and a seat in the passenger car during the first leg of the trip, from Elgin to where the train reverses direction. Cab rides are the cost of a ticket for the specific train ride, plus $200.
“Passengers have so much fun with the Gold Rush Bandits train robberies, we have included two in the fall schedule,” said Ed Spaulding, president of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that manages the excursion business for the railroad. “The beautiful horses and train-stopping action provide lots of photo opportunities.”
Regardless of the theme for the day or when they are riding, passengers always have high praise for the scenery, the food, and the fun, relaxed atmosphere. Members of the Friends of the Joseph Branch serve as the all-volunteer crew of engineers, conductors and car hosts. Ten Depot Street, a La Grande restaurant, prepares the popular boxed lunches served on Two Rivers and Two Rivers Bonus trips, and the Wine & Cheese Train. Chuckwagon Sisters Catering, from Enterprise, caters the trips with special themes.
Go to Ride the Train, Trip Descriptions and Schedule for more information. Then go to Book Online and follow the links to purchase tickets through our online booking service. Call the Elgin Depot, 541.437.3652, if you have questions.