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National Leader Rail Explorers begin operations in Clay County

Governor Justice celebrates the opening of the state’s first railbike excursion
CLAY, WV — Gov. Jim Justice today celebrated the grand opening of the newest location of Rail Explorers, the nation’s leading railbike operator, in Clay.

On Rail Explorers’ comfortable, 2- and 4-person electric-assisted railbikes, riders can now easily pedal a scenic 12-mile round-trip stretch of historic railroad along the Elk River and Buffalo Creek. The new Elk River location joins the company’s popular sites in California, Rhode Island, New York, Iowa, and Kentucky. 

The state’s newest tourism attraction traverses the tracks of the former Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad, which transported coal and lumber beginning as early as 1904. The rail line remained functional for over a century until it was severely damaged in the June 2016 flood. The corridor has since been repaired and is being repurposed to bring tourists to the region. The route is very scenic and features Devil’s Sawmill Waterfall, the newest addition to the wildly popular West Virginia Waterfall Trail

“I could not be more excited to welcome Rail Explorers to our great state,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve seen an incredible boost to the area since opening the Elk River Trail, and it’s just fantastic to see that success expand even further with the addition of Rail Explorers to our state’s growing tourism economy. Rail bikes have been extremely popular in other areas of the country, and it’s great to see them right here in Clay County.”

Rail Explorers founded the railbike industry in America. Its state-of-the-art railbikes are pedal-powered, have hydraulic disc brakes, and feature a custom-built electric motor – the REX Propulsion System. The technology leads the world in safety, design, and ease of operation. The combination creates a truly effortless ride for guests of all ages and abilities. 
“This unforgettable outdoor adventure combines the tranquility of nature with the thrill of railbiking and magic of the railroad,” Mary Joy Lu, Rail Explorers CEO, said. “We are incredibly excited to bring Rail Explorers to Clay, WV. The beauty of this area is unmatched – we are so proud to re-activate this historic railroad that has been a lifeline in the community for over 100 years. This two-hour, eco-friendly activity is fully accessible to people of all ages and abilities, making this a perfect activity for families, friends, and solo explorers.”

Tours are open Thursdays through Mondays at 874 Buffalo Creek Road, Clay, WV 25043. Riders can choose a Quad Railbike (up to four riders) for $160 or Tandem Railbike (up to two riders) for $80. Clay County residents are eligible for discounted rides on ‘Locals’ Days.’ 

The company’s Elk River location is expected to employ 15 to 20 people, including seasonal guides. The project was made possible through a public-private partnership with the West Virginia Department of Transportation.  

“When I first heard about the anticipated opening of the new tourist venue, Rail Explorers, an old but true saying immediately came to mind, ‘It takes a village,'” said West Virginia Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. “Thanks to our dynamic Governor and his unwavering commitment to expanding the tourism industry within our state, new venues and attractions like Rail Explorers are making their way to West Virginia. The Departments of Transportation and Tourism have joined forces to make this anticipation a reality. Our motto at Transportation is ‘ONE DOT.’ With each collaborative project, we are working together for the betterment of our state.”
Clay County has seen increases in visitation since the opening of the Elk River Trail in 2019, and today’s announcement positions the county for even more significant growth.

“I’m so grateful to Gov. Justice for his unwavering commitment to tourism and the vision to make projects like this a reality,” West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby said. “I remember visiting this site years ago before the opening of the Elk River Trail and dreaming of this day. It’s been incredible to watch as this park has grown from a piece of property and an idea into a thriving state park with a nationally acclaimed company operating railbikes. This is an exciting day not just for Clay County but for our entire tourism industry. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this happen, including Speaker Hanshaw, who roots for Clay County every single day.”

Tours are open to the public and pet-friendly. Limited seating is available, and reservations are recommended. Visit RailExplorers.net or call 877-833-8588 to learn more and reserve tickets.