Galloping Goose(es)

Home of the Galloping Goose

Here’s a unique bit of railroad history from Colorado’s San Juan Mountain region. Forrest, Sprocket, and I have seen the replica of Motor #1 and the originals of Motor #4 and #5. I hope to see the others sometime in the future. I’ve included C.W. McCall‘s “The Galloping Goose” for your listening pleasure:

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Founded in Ridgway, Colorado in 1889, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was a narrow gauge railroad founded to connect the towns of Ouray and Silverton. (Both of these towns were reached by branch lines of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad but were not directly connected). Soon after the railroad was completed, the Silver Panic of 1893 took away most of the railroad’s traffic.

In an attempt to stave off bankrupcy, the Rio Grande Southern looked beyond the mines for a way to stay viable. In 1931, the railroad built RGS Motor #1 to be a cost efficient way to transport the U.S. Mail. The motor was built from the body of a Buick “Master Six” sedan. RGS Motor #1 could carry the mail, some passengers, or up to 4,000 pounds of freight. Motor #1 was so successful it paid for itself within a month. Unfortunately, the original Motor #1 was scrapped as parts for the other motors in 1933. A very exact replica of Motor #1 was built in 2000 by Karl Schaeffer and is on display at the Ridgway Railroad Museum. The replica is fully operational. (For more on the replica check out the Ridgway Railroad Museum’s Motor #1 page.)

The name “Galloping Goose” was not adopted by the railroad until 1950 but the name is believed to come from the “waddling” rocking motion the trains had going down the track. Another suggestion is that the air horns (compared to steam whistles) were compared to goose honking. Regardless, the informal name stuck while the railroad officially called them motors.

A larger Motor #2 was built later in 1931 using the same Buick body as Motor #1. In 1935, it was repainted silver to match the other Motors. In 1939, Motor #2 was revamped with a Pace-Arrow body and received many parts from a motor retired in 1939 from the San Cristobal Railroad (that motor was built in 1933 by RGS for the San Cristobal and is not considered one of the seven “geese”). Motor #2 was placed mostly on standby after its rebuild as newer motors were in use. Motor #2 undergoing restoration at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado and is considered operational.

Motors #3, #4, and #5 were all built with Pace-Arrow parts. They had three trucks (the middle truck was powered) and articulated bodies. Motors #3 and #4 were built in 1932 and Motor #5 followed in 1933. Motor #3 operates occasionally at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town & Calico Railway. Motor #4 belongs to the Telluride Volunteer Fire Department but is currently on display at the Ridgway Railroad Museum where it has been returned to operational status; its restoration is on going. Motor #5 is on display in Dolores, Colorado. Either in 1945 or 1946 (conflicting reports) Motors #3, #4, and #5 were refitted with Wayne bus bodies and WWII surplus GMC engines.

Motor #6 was built in 1934 mostly with parts from scrapped Motor #1. As a “work train” Motor #6 never saw passenger service. It is currently at the Colorado Railroad Museum and is considered operational.

Motor #7 was built in 1936 and is nearly identical to Motors #3, #4, and #5. Unlike the other motors, it retained its Pace-Arrow body when the others were updated to Wayne bus bodies. Along with Motor #6 it was used for scrapping the Rio Grande Southern operations. Motor #7 is located at the Colorado Railroad Museum and is operational.

In 1950, the Rio Grand Southern lost its mail contract (trucks took over the task of driving the mail) and Motors #3, #4, #5, and #7 were converted entirely to passenger operations to attract tourists. Large windows were cut in the freight compartments and seating was added. It was at this time that the railroad formally accepted the “Galloping Goose” moniker for its motors and added the goose logos. Passenger operations ceased at the closure of the railroad in 1951.

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia: Galloping Goose (railcar)

Wikipedia: Rio Grande Southern Railroad

The Galloping Goose Historical Society

Ridgway Railroad Museum

American Steam & Narrow Gauge: Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose

 

Day 6: Moab, Utah to Artisia, New Mexico

We departed Moab this morning at about eight after packing up our clean laundry and mostly clean puppy dog. Sprocket settled right in for the ride as we headed south out of town. At Monticello we headed east for Colorado (a new state for me!). We got gas and the most fabulous gas station burrito I’ve ever had at the gas station in Dove Creek.

We headed to Dolores to see the Galloping Goose and found that the train was interesting but that the town itself was pretty interesting—there were lots of old cool buildings and a brewery (which sadly was closed). Before heading out towards Durango we stopped to visit Tony & Brenda, friends Forrest made riding the trials circuit. It was nice to just get out of the car and Sprocket really enjoyed eating all of the sticks in the yard and drinking out of Brenda’s fountain.


In Durango, we made a quick tour through the historic downtown but there was lots of construction and not really anywhere to park so we didn’t stop. We headed to Walmart to try and remedy the no camera situation and decided to postpone our purchase until Santa Fe (bad choice).

We drove through some really pretty country in southwestern Colorado to Pagosa Springs. Just before getting into town we passed two microbreweries (Pagosa Brewing Co. and Pagosa Brew Stop) but both were closed at 2pm on a Sunday. In downtown, there were still some cool old buildings but the town was certainly dominated by the large hotels and spas on the rivers using the hot springs. Sprocket’s nose was going a mile a minute trying to understand that sulfer smell! I was a little mean to the little guy and let him sniff and take a sip out of the hot springs water in a fountain in town—he couldn’t quite figure out if it was good or plain awful.

In New Mexico, we made a stop at the Echo Amphitheater in Carson National Forest. It was a really beautiful, almost perfectly semicircular gouge in the wall of a cliff. Sprocket and I sprinted the whole way back down the trail (not very long…maybe a quarter mile) and he loved it—it’s certainly his favorite to run with me off the leash.

In Santa Fe we tried to stop and get some “southwestern” food and try some micros but downtown Santa Fe was a zoo. Forrest and I decided that the food would probably be pretty pricey and the stop would probably turn out longer than we’d hoped for so we just headed for Walmart where we bought a camera (that means pictures from here on!!). We filled up before leaving town and found that we’re getting pretty unbelievable gas mileage—we calculated 29.3 mpg if you can possibly believe it.

We miscalculated and guessed that at the US 285 and I-40 interchange…”Clive Corners”…there would be food of some kind. We were pretty wrong. There wasn’t even gas station food so we settled for bagels and cream cheese in the parking lot and decided to press on to Roswell for the night. We’re joked about “looking for UFO’s” as we’re cruising towards town while listening to “The Country Giant” that promises a “Strait Shot” once an hour—that’s a George Strait song at least once an hour all day long, love it! Unfortunately, I directed us onto the truck route around Roswell so we went all the way down to Artisia before we found anywhere to sleep, but boy were we ready for bed when we got there!