Perhaps you’ve heard that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” But I never would have guessed it invented time zones.
What began in Ancient Greece as a way for animals to pull heavy items or large quantities with ease, today’s trains move everything from products to people all over the world.
So when the first iron horse rolled across the tracks of Great Britain (way back in 1804), travelers from all over quickly realized one thing: schedules! Yes, crossing vast countryside meant wanting to arrive at a specific time. Hence the creation and unification of time zones.
Catching up to today, my husband and I just had to keep an eye on the time in our zone: an 11:30 am departure with the Mount Rainier Railroad…
Thanks to a coworker’s very special birthday gift, we found ourselves looking online at this heritage railroad company’s very seasonal event options. Wine tasting in September, brewing up October…the Great Pumpkin and The Polar Express—goodness! Gotta narrow it down to one. Letting our own existing schedules decide, we chose wine…
Arriving at the train station early, we checked in, then began to look around. One of the smallest churches in the country was tough to miss: the Elbe Lutheran Church—founded by German settlers and on the National Register of Historic Places—shares the same parking lot with Mount Rainier Railroad. And across the street—coffee!
Ready for a little java, we headed over to DeWitt’s Elbe Junction. What a fun store—plenty to peruse here. Lattes and biscotti in hand, we seated ourselves at a small table between two cozy rocking chairs and enjoyed the moment.
Mount Rainier’s RR
Finishing up our late morning treats, we headed back to the train station just in time to watch the beautiful vintage rail cars pull forward. Originally servicing Pacific Northwest logging camps of the early 1900s, this American Heritage Railways member now takes curious travelers to themed events by going back in time…
Boarding our coach, we found our table set and ready for our tasting event: one souvenir wine glass, six drink tickets and a mini meat and cheese tray. Perfect!
Our conductors—dressed in vintage style (complete with pocket watch)—posed for pics and answered my funny questions. Like: which way is the mountain? (In my defense, there was just enough cloud cover combined with a few curves of the track for me to lose sight of the tallest mountain in the state…)
The scenery was stunning—lots of forest and river views with every twist and turn. A staff member poured us a sample from one of the featured wine vendors awaiting our arrival at the tent.
The conductors—eager to share the great vistas with all passengers—invited everyone to make their way to the open air train car. They did not disappoint—plenty of viewing room on both sides of the car. I managed to arrive just in time to cross the Nisqually River with the mountain base making an appearance. Gorgeous!
Arriving in style, we stepped down from the train and into Mineral. A former mining town turned logging camp, this small community is now home to Mount Rainier’s logging museum and event locale.
Stretching our legs, we wandered a bit before visiting the wine and food tents. The museum’s featured artifacts are outside: logging equipment, including a very old ski plane. A few vintage steam engines were covered from the elements, but granted access to interested event patrons.
Back to the party! A live band played near the base of a Paul Bunyan statue (absent Babe). Showcasing Pacific Northwest vintners and brewers, five wine tents and one cider tent poured one sample per drink ticket. We chose varietals and vendors that were new to us, and all were delicious.
Shaken Bar Room and Bistro, also local, catered the event, providing finger foods like mini tacos and fresh fruits and cheeses. Very yummy stuff that kept our tummies happy. We headed back to the logging museum/gift shop and purchased a few bottles of the wines we liked best. And before we knew it, the whistle was blowing: time to make our way back…
Waiting for us at our table was a chocolate steam engine. Not too big—just the right amount of sweetness to end our vino focused meal as the train took us back to Elbe.
Truly a fun way to spend a few hours, I recommend you take this train ride back in time. A dose of history and fun near the base of Mount Rainier—in the train inspired time zone called the Pacific. Toot-toot! Just don’t be late… J 🚂