At the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 706, Elbe is best known for the home of the Mt. Rainier Railroad & Museum and the Historic Elbe Church. Fondly referred to as the “Little White Church,” when you come upon this quaint (18 x 24ft) roadside treasure, you immediately recognize the special quality that has graced this location since 1906. Henry Lutkens, an early homesteader donated the property and materials along with land and logs for the first school house in Elbe. Today, services are held March through November. The church is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is an extension of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Day retreats and weddings are held for small groups of no more than 43 people.
The Mt. Rainier Railroad offers weekly excursions as tour trains depart beneath the snow white cap of Mount Rainier from the Depot and Gift Shop in Elbe. Pulled by vintage locomotives, passengers on the Mt. Rainier Railroad are charmed as they pass through forest and meadows, next to clear mountain streams and over tall wooden trestles. The train crosses the Nisqually River on a bridge and skirts Mineral Creek, then crosses Mineral Creek on a smaller bridge before arriving at the Railroad Museum in Mineral. The museum offers an awe-inspiring collection of steam locomotives of various vintages, lovingly cared for and maintained by a paid crew and volunteers.
The Nisqually River goes through the heart of town and empties into Alder Lake, a popular boating and fishing destination. The town is named in honor of the pioneer settler, Henry C. Lutken, who came from the valley of Elbe in Germany.