Excursion Train to Feature Wineries and Other Artisan Producers

ELGIN, OREGON__The 2017 season of the Eagle Cap Excursion Train launches Sunday, May 14, with the annual Mother’s Day Brunch, then settles 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 Oregon who may have never considered visiting before,” Spaulding said.

The 2017 season includes some new trips, designed for lovers of wine and artisan food. 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. In September, 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. “Passengers will be served a light meal at the beginning of the trip and will have the opportunity to enjoy wine and chocolates (June 10) or cheese (September 30) during the return to the depot.”

Also new is a train ride designed for railroad photographers, with special stops to let photographers off the train for run-bys, giving them excellent views of the train as it passes. See the website for trip descriptions and the full schedule.

Reservations are required and are available through the online booking service on the website, www.eaglecaptrainrides.com; go to “Ride the Train” and select “Book Online” from the drop-down menu. Passengers who prefer to talk to an agent can call Alegre Travel, the excursion train reservations agency, 800.323.7330. Agents can also, upon request, book motel rooms and offer advice on other activities and attractions in the area.

Passenger train excursions use the section of track from Elgin to Minam. This section travels through mostly roadless country, staying north of Oregon Highway 82 to Enterprise, also known as the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. 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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