August 30, 2013 in Features

Leisurely rail tours offer elevated outlook

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A train carrying passengers between Metaline Falls and Ione will make six round trips this weekend. The North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Club runs the sightseeing train.
(Full-size photo)

Warning: There will be bandits.

But the young thugs planning to hold up the train are of the Robin Hood variety, with intentions to turn over any donations collected from passengers to the all-volunteer Cutter Theatre in Metaline Falls, Wash.

And the rest of the 20-mile round trip through countryside and a river canyon in northeastern Washington should be fairly peaceful. The North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Club runs a train between Ione and Metaline Falls six weekends a year as a fundraiser, allowing passengers views they wouldn’t get from the highway – most notably of Box Canyon Dam from a 130-high trestle completed in 1910.

“We haven’t had anybody try to get off there yet,” said Dick Norton, a Lions Club past president.

Normally departing from Ione, the train will reverse its route this weekend to leave from Metaline Falls, about 100 miles north of Spokane, to coincide with the town’s annual Affair on Main Street festival. (Think community breakfasts, a car show, local bands and repeated performances by the Selkirk Cheerleader Cancan Dancers.)

The Lions Club uses proceeds from ticket sales to finance community projects in Ione, Metaline and Metaline Falls. They’ve recently included new high school wrestling mats and a new ambulance.

Adrian Rogers

Where: This weekend’s train leaves from the depot in Busta Park at the end of Metaline Falls. Signs are up to direct visitors.

When: The train leaves from Metaline Falls at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The trip takes 90 minutes.

Tickets: $15, ages 13 to 64; $10, seniors and children 2 to 12; free for children younger than 2. Call (877) 525-5226 or go to www.lionstrainrides.com.

Also online: Find a schedule of events and more information about Metaline Falls’ Affair on Main Street festival on the event’s page on Facebook.

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