Kim and Anita Metlen have long been active cyclists, involved with the development of bicycle tourism in northeast Oregon and across the state. They were leaders in the development and designation of the Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway, under a program of Travel Oregon and the Oregon Department of Parks & Recreation. Admired nationally, the Oregon Scenic Bikeways Program is unique to Oregon and patterned after the state’s acclaimed scenic byways program. Since 2013, they have been involved with the effort to install a multi-use trail parallel to the track from Elgin to Joseph.
The couple owned and operated Mountainworks Bike Shop in La Grande for several years, before selling the shop to their daughter and her husband, Mavis and Whitfield Hartz. Advocates for fitness and fans of history and nature, the Metlens admired the scenic beauty of the Wallowa Union Railroad (Historically known as the Joseph Branch), a 63-mile line that connects Elgin with Joseph and links the communities between. They wondered how they could follow their passions while utilizing a section of railroad that is not currently used for excursion train rides. After researching about railriders in other parts of the world and discovering a similar business in the Eastern Unites States, the idea for Joseph Branch Railriders was born. With help from local manufacturing companies, Kim designed and fabricated the rail units and they were first tested on the rail line fall of 2013. After acquiring permission from the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority and setting up a base of operations at 304 North Main Street in Joseph, the business began offering (dress rehearsal) rides in May 17, 2014. A grand opening was celebrated May 23, 2015, the launch of a busy second season. In 2016, we will expanded our schedule to five days a week, Thursday through Monday, to accommodate our growing popularity.
2017 brought a relocation of our office to our departure site at 501 W Alder Street as well as onsite Manager Robert Nichols, allowing the owners to focus on support and expansion.
2018 brought a new location: Vance Creek Railriders in Shelton, WA. This year also brought the addition of the Wheeler location on July 4th, an extension of the Oregon Coast Railriders.
2019 Railriders will be now known as Railrider Cycling this is to help make it clear that Railriders is a strong growing tree with expanding branches. Our different locations will be known as branches following that name. i.e. Railrider Cycling: Joseph Branch.
- To develop the historic Joseph Branch Railway as a recreational interface of historical and natural significance.
- To promote Wallowa County and contribute to its economic stability.
- To share the splendor of The Wallowas.