Rail riders start rolling on local rail line
Bay City kicked off its new business Friday when the Oregon Coast Railriders started making runs from Bay City into Tillamook using the railroad and pedal-powered rail cars.
According to owner Kim Metlen, the business has gotten off to a big start. “When we had the free ride last Saturday, we had more than 70 people,” he said.
That was even more than he was expecting.
The former bike shop owner in La Grande started the business several years ago, offering tourists and residents a chance to bike on the abandoned rail line connecting the towns of Enterprise and Joseph. The Joseph Branch Railriders expanded the service, offering a day trip to Minam.
After that proved successful, Metlen and his wife began looking at trying to do something similar along the Oregon coastline.
Approximately eight months ago, the family gave some of the local public officials a taste of the business, having them ride north from Bay City to Miami Cove and back.
The route is different this summer, going south and extending partially into Tillamook. “It takes about two hours,” Metlen said.
But he has also added some new pedal carts for the new route, he added.
The starting point for each trip is along the railroad next to the Fish Peddler business in Bay City on the west side of Highway 101.
By the second day, he was filling up almost each of his three runs. “We had 28 the first run. We were fully booked for this run (the noon departure) and the next one (3 p.m.). So yeah, life is good,” he said with a smile.
He is already looking to add to his workforce, Metlen said. “Over on the other side (in Joseph), all I ever heard was this was the best job they ever had.
“It is a neat job. The people, they are all happy to be here,” he added.
After a successful start on the Memorial Day weekend, Metlen said he plans to be here for a while. But he is cautious in his optimism. “Baby steps. There are other things. I’d like to go in the other direction,” he said, waving to the north. ‘There are some things we have got to do to accommodate more people, but we got to get this going right first.”
He could also add a later run that could catch the sunset. “If we get things going well, we feel the next thing to add would be an evening run.”
He already says he sees an impact from his business in Bay City. “I went into one restaurant and I saw about 10 or 15 people who had just finished riding with us sitting down and having lunch,” Metlen said.
There are a lot of ways to stretch his resources, Metlen explained. “But first, we have to get this down right. Right now, I am just trying to cope with what is coming. It’s a good problem.”
Even the weather should work in his favor. “When you look at the climatological data, June through the end of September should be beautiful on the Oregon Coast,” he explained.
He may even have to get back to work building more cars to handle the growth at Bay City, Metlen said. “I’m the one who builds those things.”
The newest businessman in Bay City also said he wanted to thank County Commissioner Mark Labhart. “He really pushed for us to come here.” Metlen also wanted to thank the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad and others for helping to get his business located in Bay City.
He also has a website up promoting the new business (www.ocrailriders.com). People can find additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 541-910-0089 or 541-910-0981.