During a meeting of the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority Tuesday evening, members of the Friends of the Joseph Branch board of directors discussed recent track repairs and the status of the rest of the season. The lengthy conversation between the Authority, which owns the railroad and its rolling stock, and the Friends, which runs the excursion business, led to consensus to add three rides to the schedule, to help make up for the rides that have been cancelled throughout the summer and early fall.
The updated 2021 fall schedule – all round trips out of Elgin:
- Saturday, October 16
- Wednesday, October 20
- Saturday, October 23
- Saturday, October 30 – expect a little Halloween fun!
- Saturday, November 6
“We appreciate the Railroad Authority, their track crew and our own volunteers for their hard work getting the necessary track maintenance done so we can get back in business,” said Ed Spaulding, the president of the board of directors.
A very dedicated core group of volunteers have worked tirelessly for 17 years to build the excursion train business.
“Over the years, we have developed a very important visitor attraction for Northeast Oregon and work hard to keep it going, despite obstacles such as the pandemic, wildfires and expensive track or equipment maintenance – all experienced this summer,” said Spaulding. Spaulding said they have only been able to run the train 3 times so far this year, out of a scheduled sixteen runs. “But we are ending the season with a burst of activity!”
In addition to the needs of this season, both groups are anxious to sustain the excursion train business well into the future. As long predicted passengers are coming from further away and many are planning their visits to Union and Wallowa counties around riding the train. That makes changes in the schedule harder to accommodate. Passengers on cancelled rides this season have been offered the option of rescheduling this fall, postponing their ride until 2022, or receiving a refund.
“Our passengers have been extremely understanding about the schedule changes this season,” said the Friends board member who manages ticket sales. “We are so grateful for their loyalty and we’re doing everything we can to ensure they have a fun experience when they ride.”
For trip descriptions, prices and details, select from the dropdown menu under Ride the Train. Tickets can be booked online or by calling 541.437.3652.