The Eagle Cap Excursion Train 2011 season is well under way and the scenery and friendly volunteers are drawing rave reviews from passengers. Train rides depart from the Elgin boarding site at 10 a.m. for a 3.5 hour train ride in roadless canyon country. The train travels down the Grande Ronde River to Rondowa, then up the Wallowa River to former site of Vincent. At Vincent, passengers have the chance to get off the train for a few minutes and enjoy the fresh mountain air before the return trip to Elgin. Prices for the train trip are youth, $35; Adult, $75; and Senior, $65, including a delicious lunch prepared by Ten Depot Street Restaurant of La Grande. Seating is limited and some trips sell out quickly. Reservations are highly recommended and available through Alegre Travel, 800.323.7330 or 541.963.9000.

New this year is featured speakers and entertainment on most trips. Guest speakers give a brief introduction to their area of expertise, engage in conversation, point out highlights along the route and answer questions. (The 2012 excursion schedule will be announced in February.)

    The railroad, in partnership with the Friends of the Joseph Branch, has refurbished the vintage 1938 Budd car, bringing excursion capacity to around 160 passengers. The car, which has been out of service for several years, was stripped to the walls and given a complete overhaul, including all new furniture, carpet, paint, electrical work, window seals and wainscoting. Book early as seats in the car are available on a first-come basis. The Friends provide the volunteer crew and assist with maintenance and upgrading of the passenger equipment.

    For additional information and photos, go to www.eaglecaptrain.com. The Eagle Cap Excursion Train is owned and operated by Wallowa Union Railroad (WURR) on a stretch of the historic “Joseph Branch.” WURR is assisted by the Friends of the Joseph Branch, a non-profit organization that preserves and presents the history and enjoyment of the century-old rail line in Wallowa and Union Counties.

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