There’s a change in the air. The days are getting shorter, the mornings crisp, the leaves beginning to sport their vibrant Fall shades. These train rides blend the season’s stunning natural beauty with Eastern Oregon’s rich history. The result: An unforgettable trip. Don’t forget your camera!
SUMPTER VALLEY RAILROAD
Step aboard the vintage steam locomotive and get your camera ready for Fall’s color explosion in the scenic Sumpter Valley. Each October, the Sumpter Valley Railroad hosts an annual Fall Photographers Weekend for photographers and history buffs alike. The train makes numerous stops throughout the journey to allow shutterbugs plenty of time to get the perfect shot. Breakfast and lunch are included with your reservation.
The train runs between McEwen and the historic mining town of Sumpter. At the nearby Sumpter Dredge State Park, passengers can take a tour and even try their luck panning for Gold before the return trip to McEwen.
Additional trips this year include a special Halloween Express and the popular Christmas Trains, Eastern Oregon’s own version of the Polar Express.
THE EAGLE CAP EXCURSION TRAIN
Around the turn of the 20th Century, the promise of fortune lured iron rails to the most remote corners of Oregon. The expanding railroads also meant big riches for bandits, who performed daring heists of trains carrying gold and other valuables.
This Fall, you can still find gangs of mounted marauders holding up the historic Eagle Cap Excursion Train as it chugs along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers. Hide your valuables and keep your camera ready as the Gold Rush Bandits climb aboard for a day of family-friendly entertainment.
The train departs from the quaint Elgin Train Depot and rumbles along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers, snaking its way through rolling farmland, rugged basalt cliffs and pristine forests. The route is part of the Wallowa Union Railroad, which stretches 63 miles from Elgin to Joseph. Known as the Joseph Branch, it dates back to the early 1900s when it was used to haul passengers, lumber, grain and livestock daily.
Trips this fall include the popular Wine-and-Cheese Train, two family-friendly Autumn Train Robberies, and one last Two Rivers Train to close out the season (Check out the full schedule here.). But the highlight is sure to be the show-stopping yellows of the Western Larch. Enjoy lunch and keep your eyes peeled for deer, elk, bald eagles, and the occasional bear along the route.
Elizabeth Farrar is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast living in the heart of Eastern Oregon. She enjoys photography, yoga, reading, drinking Oregon Pinot and cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks. To read more of Liz’s work, please visit: www.elizabethfarrar.com.