Freight trains stopped running on the Wallowa Union Rail Line more than 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the tracks are empty. Visitors to the area can see a different type of vehicle these days—the pedal-powered contraption known as a railrider.
Part bike, part old-fashioned rail car, the railriders travel up and down the six miles of track between Joseph and Enterprise. The line veers away from the road, giving riders access to scenery they can’t see any other way. The carts were the brainchild of Kim and Anita Metlen, who owned a bike shop before opening Joseph Branch Railriders in 2015.
“You’ve got a 360 panorama, there’s no diesel smell, you’ve got fresh air,” says Kim Metlen. “You’ve got all the senses being utilized.”
The 12-mile roundtrip, which the Metlens offer five days a week, is fairly flat, and most riders can easily make it to Enterprise and back. Those who require a bit of assistance on the slightly-uphill return journey can request a motor-powered pedal boost. The important thing is that everyone enjoys the ride.
“Between the people and the critters and the scenery, I don’t get tired of it,” Kim Metlen says. “When you can have somebody having fun, life is good.”