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Galloping Goose History
History The Galloping Goose

In the booming era of the late 1800s, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was built to service the remote mining communities high in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. One hundred sixty-two miles of narrow gauge track transported people and provisions through the harsh, beautiful, mountainous landscape to the bustling towns of Telluride, Durango, Ouray and points in between.

When the silver market crashed, the RGS was forced to scale down their operations to keep the railroad running, and the ingenious Galloping Goose, a gasoline-engine "railbus" was invented. The first Goose was fabricated from the body of a Buick in 1931. Compared to the steam locomotive, it was economical to operate and maintain. The fleet was ultimately expanded to seven, with each new Goose an improved-upon design. The Geese galloped through the San Juans, carrying the U.S. Mail, passengers, and freight, until the 1950s.

Galloping Goose #4
Galloping Goose 4, by Rich Estes
Galloping Goose #4 is on display at the San Miguel County Courthouse in Telluride. Goose #5, fully restored and rail worthy, resides at the historical museum in Dolores between excursions on the remaining narrow gauge railroad tracks in the Southwest. Several other Geese are exhibited at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.

The name Galloping Goose is used with the kind permission of the Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores, Inc.

Photo courtesy of John Richter