2023 Excursion Season is Under Way

We got the 2023 season rolling with the traditional Mother’s Day Brunch, May 14, with a delicious meal catered by Ten Depot Street of La Grande. Then we followed up with a wonderful scenic ride on May 27.

“May and June are such a beautiful time of year,” said Ed Spaulding, President of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, “we are pleased to provide chances for people to enjoy the spring scenery along the rivers.”

The 2023 schedule offers 23 train rides, spread out through October 22. The scenery always receives top rating, but entertainment and themes add to the fun. The schedule includes two Bigfoot outings, the first on June 10! There are three robberies, enacted by the High Country Outlaws; an evening dinner train; a picnic lunch at Minam; and a ride with a Bavarian theme. The Alpen Train is on the schedule for June 28, to get people in the mood for Oregon’s Alpenfest in Joseph. Passengers can expect German fare on the menu, accordion music, and costumed representatives from Alpenfest. (This ride is almost sold out, so don’t delay if this theme suits your fancy! Bavarian attire is welcome!)

Two short rides on August 2 and September 9 are designed for vacationing families who want to pack a lot into their day. Two “Bonus” rides travel from Elgin to Minam and back, providing longer trips for genuine railfans.

Trip descriptions and the schedule are posted on Trip Descriptions page and reservations can be made through the online booking service or by calling the Elgin Depot, 541.437.3652. For assistance for groups and charters, contact the reservations manager by sending an email to eaglecaptraindepot@gmail.com.    

The all-volunteer crew of certified engineers, conductors and car hosts are members of the Friends of the Joseph Branch, the non-profit organization that manages the excursions business. Learn about membership and volunteer opportunities, by sending a message through the comments on this page.

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Thank you, Passengers!

We had a wonderful 2022 season, taking over 2,000 passengers for a scenic ride over the season. We averaged 105 passengers per ride! Thank you! to all who rode – especially those who had to change plans because of wildfires or other challenges we encountered beyond our control.

As we look forward to next season and plan our schedule for 2023, we also thank the track maintenance crew for all of their hard work and dedication, and give a special shout-out to Jim Seifer, Jr., of the Wallowa Union Railroad, as well as our amazing volunteers, Ed Spaulding (FJB Board President), and Ray Meyer (FJB Board member). You all are so appreciated!

We will announce the new schedule in January 2023. Watch this website and our Facebook page and be ready to plan your next ride on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train!

NOTE: Consider giving a gift certificate for a ride on the train. Just contact us through a ‘Comment” and we’ll help make a very special gift happen.

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Fall Season adjustments

We had to make some changes to the September schedule, due to challenges outside of our control. However, we have added two Sunday rides later in October to handle the demand during the highly scenic season. We are sad about the two rides we had to cancel, but very grateful to our loyal passengers and dedicated volunteers and track crew. For those who were unable to reschedule, we’re sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience and hope you have the opportunity to ride next year.

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Fall Season Ready to Roll

We have some fun themes this fall, ranging from Shakespeare to Bavarian to Bigfoot and local farm bounty! All trips feature beautiful autumn scenery and tasty lunches. Check out the descriptions and book your tickets right away. The Train Robbery is already sold out, so don’t let your favorite theme train leave without you on board!

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Fall Season Highlights

Our spring and summer ends with a short ride along the Grande Ronde river Wednesday, July 27. There are seats available for this ride, so be sure to make your reservations by 3 p.m., Tuesday.

For the past several years, we have taken the month of August off the schedule for the train. This allows our all-volunteer crew and hosts to take a break during the hottest and least scenic time and keeps us from running during the height of the wildfire risk period.

We will start the fall season on September 3, by which time the days are shorter and beginning to cool and there is more moisture in the air. Fall colors begin to show in the deciduous underbrush and birds and wildlife begin to show themselves again.

We have a total of eight trips on the calendar for September and October. Please see the Trip Descriptions page under “Ride the Train” for the details. Highlights include a train robbery, the Alpen Train (showcasing Oregon’s Alpenfest in Joseph), a Bigfoot Train and more.

We hope to see you this fall! It’s a colorful and beautiful time to ride the train.

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2022 Schedule and Trip Descriptions Announced

We are excited to announce the 2022 season schedule and are looking forward to a fun and successful season for all! It has been an interesting two years and we know you are as anxious to get out and enjoy travel and recreation as the rest of us. Come ride the train!

To view the 2022 season schedule, go to the drop-down menu under “Ride the Train” and click on “Schedule.”

To view the 2022 trip descriptions, go to the drop-down menu under “Ride the Train” and click on “Trip Descriptions.”

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Backcountry Howard Creek Bridge Gets Repairs

We had such high hopes for a busy and successful 2020 season! But COVID-19 stepped in and everything changed. To protect the health of our volunteers, crew and passengers, we decided not to run the train at all.

The Friends of the Joseph Branch board of directors was determined to make the best of the situation by working with the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority to get long overdue equipment and track maintenance accomplished. WURA leaders were successful in selling their railroad tax credits and acquired a $50,000 grant from Oregon Department of Transportation to repair the bridges at Howard Creek and Water Canyon, and to complete other track improvements. The $160,000 project was contracted to LJH and Wallowa Union Railroad track crew helped. The Friends paid for the locomotive fuel and several members put in quite a few volunteer hours to run the work train to the construction site on four different occasions. The bridge projects are nearly completed, opening up the possibility for the train to return to serving the lower Wallowa County when we are up and rolling again.

A highlight of the project was the method used to get the concrete trucks and construction equipment to the bridge at Howard Creek – which is in the backcountry and not accessible by road. A staging area was created at Minam and the trucks were loaded on the flatcar and hauled down to the construction site by rail. (See photo.)

Also this season, David Arnold and Sundae Woods started work prepping and repainting the entire train! The huge project was completed this fall and the train looks wonderful. Other maintenance work was completed on the engines and passenger cars, making them ready for what we hope will be a great season in 2021!

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Father’s Day is Coming! What do you have planned?

The bandits are back in the woods north of Elgin! They are hiding in the trees, waiting to flag down the train and climb on board – waiting to entertain passengers on Father’s Day weekend. Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, the Gold Rush Bandits will saddle their horses and dress in their Western best, ready for action!

If a ride on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train is part of your Father’s Day celebration, be sure to hide your valuables when you find your seat and keep your camera handy! Enjoy the amazing scenery, visit with fellow passengers and be prepared for excitement just down the track.

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 Chicken Almond Salad with fruit (strawberry, grapes, cantaloupe), crackers and a cupcake. The vegetarian choice is Taco Salad (with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, grated cheese) served with Ten Depot Street’s famous Green Goddess Dressing and salsa. This can be made vegan without the cheese.

Make reservations by clicking here, and follow the links to the ride of your choice.

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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 began with the popular Mother’s Day Brunch, Sunday, May 12. The trip sold out, as usual and passengers enjoyed 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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