An Elkhorn area family with two young sons was stranded aboard an Amtrak train for 36 hours in a snowstorm in Oregon.
A train carrying 186 passengers from Eugene, Oregon, halted when it struck trees that had fallen across the tracks on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning, a Union Pacific engine pulled the train back to a station in Eugene.
Becky and Jeremy Albright were in the train’s coach section with their 2- and 5-year-old sons.
Passengers complained of the inconvenience and uncertainty of being stranded, Becky Albright said. But amid the chaos, passengers showed their resolve.
One women had brought her ukulele, she said.
“She teaches music and invited the kids to come down and have a music lesson.”
Passengers shared diapers, snacks and playing cards to pass the time.
According to the Associated Press, the passengers were kept on the train because heavy snow had knocked out power in the nearest city, and the train at least had food, heat and functioning toilets, Amtrak said.
Morale remained surprisingly strong throughout the delay, Albright said.
Her young kids made friends, played with toys and watched movies. Her 5-year-old son, Logan, didn’t even know the train had stopped.
In the Albrights’ car, passengers received regular updates from Amtrak, but they weren’t given a timetable for when the train would be repaired.
Once the train’s engine was replaced, the train returned to the nearest major station, in Eugene, where half the passengers exited. The Albrights chose to stay aboard for another couple of hours to get to Portland, where they could find a more affordable flight home.
When the family arrived, they were greeted with a buffet.
“My kids were so happy to eat fruit,” she said. “They were jumping up and down and screaming.”
Amtrak refunded the cost of the family’s tickets, paid for a hotel room in Portland and will likely pay the cost of their plane tickets home, Albright said.
The Albrights had been visiting family in coastal Washington. They wanted to ride the train home because 2-year-old Ryder loves trains. Albright thought this would be a good age to take her boys for a ride through the mountains.
“We were having such a blast before this happened,” Albright said. “I really want to do this again sometime, but maybe not for a while.”
The family arrived home in Omaha just after noon on Wednesday, a few hours after their train was originally scheduled to arrive. The family is exhausted, but she said they’re doing well.
“The little one has played hockey and cars, and the big one has watched YouTube videos,” she said. “I did laundry and took a cat nap.”