Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad

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Wallowa Union Railroad Overview

The Joseph Branch is a 63-mile long railroad that links the communities of Elgin, Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph in Northeast Oregon with the Union Pacific railroad in La Grande. In 1993, Union Pacific sold the Joseph Branch to Idaho Northern & Pacific as part of a package of rail lines in the area. Passenger service was prevented because the UP maintained the ownership of the right-of-way between La Grande and Elgin. By 1996, freight service to Joseph stopped. Abandonment of the line above Elgin was approved by the Surface Transportaiton Board in April, 1997.

After several years of debate on how and whether to rescue the line before it was to be dismantled, an intergovernmental partnership between Union and Wallowa Counties was formed and the Oregon Legislature contributed $2 million for to purchase the line and limited rolling stock, to start its rehabilitation. The two counties secured a loan from the Oregon Economic & Community Development Department for the balance of the purchase price. On March 31, 2002, the purchase of the line between Elgin and Joseph was achieved. The Wallowa Union Railroad Authority was formed to operate the line and their crews started doing the work in December 2003. Freight service and an excursion train shared the track and crew in the first few years. From 2009 to 2011, a portion of the line not in use by the excursion train was leased to Union Pacific Railroad for the storage of excess lumber cars during the recession. This produced enough revenue for the WURA to retire their loan.

The scenic train business was established as the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. The first full season of operation for the excursion train was 2004. The excursion train continues to provide scenic train rides on Mother’s Day and selected Saturdays, from late June through October on the roadless section of track between Elgin and Minam. The train operates from the Elgin Depot in Elgin, Oregon.

Any return of freight business appears dubious at best at the moment and would likely require a substantial increase is raw log supplies for any sawmills to reopen or development of new industry. The Wallowa Union Railroad continues providing one of the more scenic railroad operations in Oregon along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers.

The railroad interchanges with Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad in Elgin, Oregon.

Wallowa Union Railroad Locomotives

Number Model Built History Notes
WURR 2083 GP7u 1953 Ex-CKRY 2083/ATSF 2883. Main locomotive.
WURR 2085 GP7u 1952 Ex-CKRY 2085/ATSF 2836. Main locomotive.
WURR 2087 GP7u 1952 Ex-CKRY 2087/ATSF 2839. Parts source.

Wallowa Union Railroad Rolling Stock

Number Type of Railcar Built History Notes
WURR 001 Caboose 1907 Ex-YW 001/MCR 025/GN X378.
WURR 1120 Passenger Car 1947 Ex-INPR/NJT 5309/CNJ 122/GN 1120.
WURR 2636 Passenger Car 1947 Ex-INPR/IC 2636.
WURR 3241 Passenger Car 1938 Ex-INPR/NJT 2408/PC/ATSF 2957/ATSF 3241.
WURR 6741 Baggage Car 1962 Ex-INPR 6741/SP 6741.
WURR 25674 Caboose 1967 Ex-UP 25674.

Former Wallowa Union Railroad Locomotives

Number Model Built History Notes
WURR 10 RDC1 1956 Ex-ORRX 10/BCOL 10/PGE BC-10. Sold to INPR in 2013.
WURR 11 RDC1 1956 Ex-ORRX 11/BCOL 11/PGE BC-11. Sold to INPR in 2013.
WURR 31 RDC3 1956 Ex-ORRX 31/BCOL 31/BCOL BC-31/GN 2350. Sold to INPR in 2013.

Wallowa Union Railroad Customers

Customer Notes
None Last customer was Wallowa Forest Products which closed in 2008.

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