2019 Train Rides Announced

We are thrilled to announce our exciting 2019 season! The schedule is full of fun opportunities to enjoy a train ride along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers of Northeast Oregon on the historic “Joseph Branch” railroad. The train winds along the shores of the Grande Ronde, into the ruggedly beautiful and roadless section of the canyon, crosses the bridge at Rondowa and continues a few miles up the Wallowa, before returning to the depot in Elgin. Schedule highlights include train robberies, rides that feature regional wine, beer, chocolates and cheese, a search for Bigfoot, a couple of mid-week runs in July and wonderful opportunities to enjoy the autumn colors. Food and beverages are served during the ride.

Following tradition, the season begins with the popular Mother’s Day Brunch, Sunday, May 12. Passengers can count on gorgeous spring scenery and a wonderful meal, prepared by Chuck Wagon Sisters Catering of Joseph, and served by the volunteer cars hosts.

“We are looking forward to another year of entertaining area residents and visitors from across the United States and around the world, with the joy of riding a train through a beautiful and remote landscape,” said Ed Spaulding, President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that manages the excursion business for the railroad and provides the all-volunteer train crew.

“Passengers and crew had so much fun with the Bigfoot Train last July, it was an easy decision to bring it and Scot Violette of Blue Mountain Bigfoot Research back in July 2019,” Spaulding added. Don’t delay in making reservations for this trip, as we anticipate it will fill quickly. Spaulding noted that, regardless of the theme for the day or when they are riding, passengers always have high praise for the scenery, the volunteers and the fun, relaxed atmosphere.

Please see the Trip Descriptions and Schedule pages to see what trips work with your calendar. See you soon! Call the Kori at Alegre Travel, 541.963.9000, or Sundae at the Elgin Depot, 541.437.3652, if you have questions.

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What are your doing for Father’s Day?

Here are the descriptions of this weekend’s rides. Don’t delay – get your tickets before it is too late!

Saturday, June 16 / Spring Train Robbery
There are bandits out there in the hills, and they are looking for an excuse to flag down the train and climb on board. It’s hard to tell who is friend and who is foe, so, hide your valuables and keep your camera handy! Boxed lunch is served during the return leg of the trip. Lunch choices are, Roast Beef Sandwich made with slow-roasted Northeast Oregon beef, homemade potato salad, grapes and a cupcake; or Hummus  & Vegetables sandwich on a wheat bun with grapes, vegan potato salad and a vegan cupcake available upon request. Departs from Elgin at 10 a.m. and returns at about 2:30 p.m.  Miles traveled = 38
Adults = $70 / Seniors 60+ = $65 / Youth, 3 to 16 = $35 (kids under 3 ride for free!)

Sunday, June 17 / Two Rivers Father’s Day
Passengers can count on a great meal and making lasting memories with the honored men in their lives, as we celebrate Father’s Day. But be aware, there are bandits out there in the hills, and they are looking for an excuse to flag down the train and climb on board. Lunch is prepared by Chuckwagon Sisters and is a plated dinner, featuring smoked beef brisket, sides and strawberry shortcake for dessert. A vegetarian/vegan lasagna option is available. Departs from Elgin Depot at 10 a.m. and returns at about 2:30 p.m. Miles traveled = 38
Adults = $80 / Seniors 60+ = $75 / Youth, 3 to 16 = $40 (kids under 3 ride for free!)

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Memorial Day Weekend Offers Next Train Ride

There’s no royal wedding in our plans, but the excursion season still offers lots of wonderful photo opportunities and the fun of riding a train through a beautiful landscape. Make a ride part of your Memorial Day or Father’s Day weekend, or include the train in your summer vacation plans.

The Wine & Chocolates Train, June 2, is an evening ride featuring a tasting of wines from Echo Ridge Cellars of Echo, served by the vintners and paired with chocolates from Arrowhead Chocolates of Joseph. A light meal is served during this ride.

Ed Spaulding, volunteer engineer and President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that manages the excursion train, says the 2018 season is a busy one for the volunteer car hosts and crew.

“We have 19 trips scheduled, including the new Seeking Bigfoot Train, happening Saturday, July 28.” An increasing amount of interest in the Bigfoot legend inspired the ride. Spaulding said sightings of Bigfoot in this region of the Blue Mountains have been reported to Scott Violette, an anthropologist and Bigfoot researcher and guide. Violette will be on the train for the ride, sharing his findings and discussing the famous creature.

Train robberies are always popular with passengers who love the added fun and excitement. Beautiful horses are a highlight when the Gold Rush Bandits flag down the train, hassle the passengers and leave with bags of glittering gold. The bandits are plotting for June 16 & 17, and later in the season.

Get your tickets online or call Alegre Travel, 800.323.7330, where agents can also help you with lodging and other vacation planning.

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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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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, takes place in the fall, at the Elgin Depot. Details of the meeting are announced here. It generally 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 the following season.

The last few years have 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 or 541.437.3652, if you plan to attend. Lunch is free to members of the organization who have paid their dues for the current year and just $15 to non-members. Annual membership for individuals is just $30. You can join at any time.

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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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