At the junction of Hwy 7 and Hwy 706, Elbe Washington is best known for the home of the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad and the Historic Elbe Church. With a population of fewer than fifty residents, Elbe is the small town that’s big on trains! The small town boasts a tourist railroad, a diner in a converted train car, roadside motel made entirely out of cabooses, and there’s even a pizzeria in a train car!
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 schoolhouse 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 & Museum offers 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 before arriving at the Mineral Logging Museum. Passengers have approximately one hour to explore the exhibits and the will see the most comprehensive collection of steam-powered logging locomotives in North America before taking the return trip back to the Elbe depot.
The Nisqually River goes through the heart of town and empties into Alder Lake, a popular boating and fishing destination. Seasonal boating and stand up paddle boarding can take place on Alder Lake when water levels permit. Guided trail rides are available at EZ Times Outfitters.
Originally known as Brown’s Junction after the Tacoma & Eastern Railway was built in the region, the town of Elbe was founded in the 1890s. The town is named in honor of the pioneer settler, Henry C. Lutken, who came from the valley of Elbe in Germany. In 1904, the Tacoma Eastern Railroad laid tracks through the area and created a logging boomtown. The town once boasted a hotel, hospital, school, and store. When a post office was requested a shorter name was demanded. A meeting of settlers decided to honor the pioneer settler Henry C. Lutkens who had come from the valley of the Elbe in Germany. In 1924 the Tacoma Eastern Railroad ended passenger service from Tacoma to nearby Ashford; Elbe began losing residents and shrunk to a shadow of its former self. Click here for more information on the history of the Elbe area.
Elbe is located 13 miles from the Nisqually Entrance (open year-round) to Mt. Rainier National Park. Depending on which route you take it’s approximately 72-miles from Seattle to Elbe which typically requires just over a 90-minute drive. It’s approximately 123 miles over a 2-hours drive from Portland, Oregon.
Visitors will find casual dining ranging from a humble burger shack, a local tavern, pizzeria, seasonal food truck, and a diner. Eateries are typically open daily during the summer months. Operating hours will vary during spring, fall, and winter seasons.
Ashford / Elbe Lodging
|wdt_ID||Name||# Rooms/Units||City||Region||Lodging Type|
|1||Alexander's Lodge||12||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Hotels, Motels and Lodges|
|2||Altimeter Cabin at Mt. Rainier||1||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|3||Basecamp Cottages||3||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|4||Copper Creek Inn, Cabins and Lodge||11||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|5||Dancing Bear Lodge||1||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|6||Deep Forest Cabins||7||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|7||Gateway Inn at Mt. Rainier||13||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Hotels, Motels and Lodges|
|8||Jimmy Beech House||1||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|9||Laze Daze Getaway||1||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|10||Little Bears Cabin||1||Ashford||Longmire/Paradise/SW||Cabins & Vacation Rentals|
|Name||# Rooms/Units||City||Region||Lodging Type|