It was a sunny Easter Saturday when we arrived at the packed train platform in Elbe, just outside the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad depot. Inside the depot visitors purchased railroad-themed souvenirs and refreshments for the train ride. We picked up our tickets at the window and joined rows of families waiting for the steam engine a short distance away in the train yard. Across the tracks, a bride and groom had pictures taken outside the Elbe church, and pedestrians took in the views at nearby Alder Lake. With a few short whistle blasts, the Easter Bunny Express lumbered up the track to pick us up.
Passengers boarded the four available train cars, and we chugged toward the former mining and lumber town of Mineral at a leisurely pace. Conductors in smart uniforms came by to punch tickets, and have their photos taken with passengers. Park-like rail benches offered good views out of both sides of the compartments which featured flowers and décor befitting the season. Each train car was comfortable and spacious, with plenty of room for busy kids to safely explore their surroundings. Families took turns checking out the small platform at the back of the car which afforded views of the tracks and scenery. We passed by forested glens and private residences, over the Nisqually river and numerous and streams, soothed by the rhythmic side to side rocking of the car. Conductors pointed out attractions such as a beaver dam, Mt. Rainier, and area waterways as we passed.
Four sharp blasts from the engine’s whistle drew us back to the train cars for a sun dappled trip back to Elbe. Children examined their Easter loot, enjoyed a second look at the beaver dam and napped alongside their parents on the way to the depot.
Things to note when making reservations: Concessions, such as popcorn and soda, sold on the train are cash only, as is the market in Elbe, just across from the train depot. The lines for tickets, concessions and souvenirs inside the depot can be pretty long, so adjust your schedule accordingly. Views of Mt. Rainier are weather dependent.
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