RGS Galloping Goose #5

The topic for the day is Geese . . . Galloping Geese that is.

The cash strapped Rio Grande Southern was always looking for ways to cut costs while trying to maintain service along the road. They did have occasional freight traffic, and passenger traffic as well. And a significant source of income came from the U.S. Postal Service via a mail hauling contract. Their answer to cutting costs came in 1931 by a novel way of transport.

The road’s master mechanic created the road’s first railbus, #1 (called motors on the RGS). This motor differed considerably from the #5 seen below, utilizing a Buick 4-door sedan as it’s base. The motor #5 featured here was built in 1933 using a 1928 Pierce-Arrow limousine body and running gear, and powered by a Pierce-Arrow 36 engine. It was similar to a tractor-trailer truck, the trailer being essentially a boxcar. Power was applied to the second truck (first truck of the boxcar). In 1946, the motor was re-built utilizing a Wayne Corporation bus body, and powered by a World War II surplus GMC gasoline truck engine. This is the version seen here.

Somewhere along the line, the motors became known as the Galloping Geese, and in 1950 the term became official with the railroad. In 1950, with the loss of the mail contract, the trailer was modified to carry passengers by adding the windows and installing seats within the interior. But unfortunately, without the mail contract the line could no longer survive and the plug was pulled in 1951. Many assets were sold off in 1952, including the #5.

All told, seven of these motors were built. They all survived except for motor #1. However I understand that a reproduction of #1 has been constructed for the Ridgway Railroad Museum, so it lives on in a sense. The Dolores Rotary Club purchased Galloping Goose #5 from the court-appointed receiver for $250. It was then put on display in Flanders Park in Dolores, Colorado. The Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores embarked on a restoration effort in 1997-98, completely restoring Galloping Goose #5 to operating condition. Today she sees occasional service on both the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic and the Durango and Silverton railroads. A more detailed history of the #5 can be read at the Galloping Goose Historical Society. Click on the History button.

RGS Galloping Goose #5
Rio Grande Southern “Galloping Goose” #5 – Photograph by William H. Radcliffe, sometime in 1950-51

An update: My friend Brian Kistanmacher provided this link to a 30 minute history of the Geese from a Denver PBS special several years ago: Galloping Goose History. It’s interesting . . . give it a watch.

This is the last of my Radcliffe collection of images, and I hope everyone has enjoyed the show! The reason this blog was created several years ago was to document the construction of my HO scale model railroad, the Louisiana Central. Sometime this spring/summer I hope to be back into layout construction, and will again post occasional updates here of the layout progress. I may also post a few “reruns”, photos that I especially like that were posted in the earlier days of this blog. You can avoid constantly checking the blog for new posts simply be subscribing to the blog. Doing so will get you an email advising that there’s a new post to check out.


3 thoughts on “RGS Galloping Goose #5

    • From what I’ve read, it was (is) a bit on the wild side. I suspect it’s mostly because of track condition. If so, the rides offered on the C&T and D&S are likely more comfortable.


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