1970s Memories: Review III

I used to occasionally drive over to the west bank of the Mississippi River across from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to do a little railfanning.  Of course I would always check out Plaquemine as part of my route.  The Texas & Pacific (now Union Pacific) runs right through the center of town, and with an abundance of interesting structures on either side of the tracks, there was always something of interest to photograph while waiting around for a train to rumble by.

Here’s one such subject that I caught one afternoon during the lull.

Plaquemine, Louisiana

1970s Memories: Review II

The second in this series of photographic reviews, this scene is at the old Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad station located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana right next to the Mississippi River levee.  The Y&MV was a subsidiary of the Illinois Central Railroad until merged into the I.C. in the late 1940s.  After the demise of rail passenger service to Baton Rouge, the building changed ownership and became the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.

This is the scene on the north end of the depot under the covered platform.  A glimpse of the “new” Mississippi River bridge can be seen in the background. About midway up in front of the levee, the tracks of the Illinois Central can be seen. As an update, in 1999 the railroad was merged into the Canadian National.

LASM Building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

1970s Memories: A Review

I mentioned in last week’s post that I might republish a few “reruns”, photos that I like that were posted in the earlier days of this blog. I’ll start that today with the post below, originally published in March of 2018.

I thought I’d start posting a few photographs I took back in the 1970s.  I’ll start today with this one taken at the former federal General Services Administration (GSA) supply depot that was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This was a significant supply depot for many years, even having its own steam locomotive to switch and spot the freight cars.  But after use of this depot began to wind down, a large chunk of it was eventually turned over to the BREC park commission in Baton Rouge.  This photo shows one of the rail served warehouses that were in the facility.  A few still survive to this day.

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.


A Colorado Steam Excursion

Rio Grande Southern locomotive #74 is seen here heading up an excursion train, likely being hosted by the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. It’s September of 1952, and Mr. Radcliffe has photographed the train somewhere between Placerville and Vance Junction, Colorado.

The #74 had quite a varied career. She was built in 1898 by Brooks for the Colorado & Northwestern as their #30. The road was eventually reorganized as the Denver, Boulder and Western, where she retained her number 30. After this line went defunct, she eventually went to the Colorado & Southern, and was renumbered as their 74. They retired her, and the RGS, always looking for the bargain, picked her up in November of 1948. She received repairs and some small modifications and entered service in January, 1949.

Her life on the RGS was short though, with the railroad shutting down in 1951. She was sold to a private owner in 1952, and ended up on display at a park in Boulder, Colorado. In 2004 she was removed, and brought to Strasburg, Colorado for a restoration (possibly to operation). After intensive work and inspection, it was finally determined that she required too much work to restore to operation, so she was restored to a cosmetic state in a joint venture of the West-Side Locomotive Company and the Colorado Railroad Museum. But its present location is somewhat a mystery, as the CRM doesn’t list her as displayed. The best I can determine is that the locomotive is still owned by the City of Boulder, but I’ve not found any indication that she is back there. [update: I’ve been informed by Mr. Robert Kramer of the CRM that #74 is still with them, on loan from the City of Boulder]

The 2-8-0 is a bit unusual due to the canted design of her steam chests. I understand that this was to accommodate it’s rather large boiler. Unfortunately the design resulted in severe lubrication problems for the locomotive over it’s life. But considering she was under steam for over 50 years, apparently the crews learned how to overcome the problem.

RGS 2-8-0 #74

Steaming Up the RGS #22

Mr. William H. Radcliffe recorded this scene of the Rio Grande Southern #22 as she was sitting at the entry to the roundhouse in Ridgway, Colorado. It’s a chilly late fall day in October of 1942, and it appears that the locomotive is being steamed up in preparation for its day of work.

The #22 is the sister of the #20 that we saw in last week’s post, and is one of three 4-6-0 locomotives that were purchased from the defunct Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad in 1916. She was built by the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1900 as the F&CC #24, and was named “Last Dollar”. The RGS classified her as a “T-19” locomotive in 1921, and she was scrapped in 1946.

RGS 4-6-0 #22
RGS 4-6-0 #22

RGS #20 on the High Iron

The Rio Grande Southern #20 was a tidy little 4-6-0 locomotive. She was originally built for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad in 1899 by the Schenectady Locomotive Works. The F&CC ceased operations in 1915, and the ten-wheeler was purchased second-hand by the RGS in 1916. She was classed as a “T-19” locomotive in 1921, and she was in service until the RGS bankruptcy in 1951.

Soon afterwards she found a home with the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club. The club maintained the historic locomotive cosmetically, and she was placed on display in Alamosa. In 1959 the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado acquired the locomotive, and she eventually underwent a 14 year renovation and rebuild. She is under steam again, and was loaned to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for a short period in the fall of 2021 for a special series of excursions. She is presently back in Golden at the museum.

In July of 1942 Mr. William H. Radcliffe captured the scene below of the #20 pulling a freight train on the RGS high iron in the vicinity of Mancos, Colorado.

RGS 4-6-0 #20

The Rio Grande Southern

The Rio Grande Southern (RGS) was another 3-foot gauge railroad that was created in 1891 by Otto Mears. Unfortunately, after the Sherman Silver Purchase Act’s repeal in 1893, the railroad fell onto hard times, where it remained for the remainder of it’s years. I have a few photographs from the former collection of Mr. William H. Radcliffe that I’ll be showing here over the next several weeks.

I’ll start with this rather unflattering image of RGS locomotive #6. She’s of a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, and was built by Baldwin in 1881 as a class C-60 (later C-19) for the D&RG as their #246. It was acquired by the RGS in 1891, and then returned to the (now) D&RGW in 1938, where she was scrapped.

This photograph was taken in Durango, Colorado in about 1923 by an unknown photographer.

Collection of Jack C. Shall

RGS 2-8-0 Locomotive #6

King of the Hill

In July of 1938 Mr. Radcliffe photographed D&RGW 2-8-2 locomotive #497 at rest in the shop area at Salida, Colorado. She is a class K-37, the most powerful of all the narrow gauge locomotives on the Rio Grande.

The #497 has an interesting story behind it. She is one of ten class K-37 locomotives that were built using components from standard gauge locomotives. In 1902 Baldwin constructed for the Denver & Rio Grande the class 190 2-8-0 locomotives (later re-classed to C-41 after rebuilds). These were used as the starting point to build the new class K-37 locomotives. Using their boilers, along with new 2-8-2 frames and wheels supplied by Baldwin, the D&RGW constructed the new class K-37s in their Burnham Shops located in Denver. The #497 was built in 1930 from former standard gauge locomotive #1003. She was retired sometime in the 1960s, and in March 1981 she went to the Durango & Silverton tourist railroad. In 1991 she was traded to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in exchange for their K-36 #482. The latest I’ve heard, she is stored serviceable – her flue time expired at the end of 2003.

D&RGW 2-8-2 #497

D&RGW #478 Ready for the Run

Mr. Radcliffe was in Durango, Colorado in September of 1950. While there he recorded this view of the simmering Rio Grande locomotive #478. With the locomotive coupled to its train, and its tender piled high with coal, it appears that it will soon be departing for its daily run. The train is likely the San Juan, and it will be headed for Alamosa, Colorado.

The #478 is another of the class K-28 2-8-2 locomotives built by Alco in 1923. She still exists today and is on display at the Durango & Silverton Railroad. She is scheduled for a re-build soon, and will be placed back in service.

There are three class K-28 locomotives preserved, the numbers 473 (which we saw in last week’s post), 476 and 478. All are located on the Durango & Silverton.

Note the camp car in the background, used in work train service.

D&RGW 2-8-2 #478

D&RGW 2-8-2 #473 (Hollywood Style)

In July of 1950 Mr. Radcliffe spotted D&RGW 2-8-2 locomotive #473 with it’s train in Silverton, Colorado. The #473 is another of the class K-28 locomotives built by Alco in 1923. She is still in service today with the Durango & Silverton Railroad.

In the late 1940s Hollywood noticed this locomotive and it was featured in several movies. In an unfortunate attempt to make it look older than she was, she was adorned with a fake “diamond” stack, and a box headlight (an attempt to make it appear as a kerosene light). They also applied what became known as the “Bumblebee” paint scheme. The locomotive cab and the tender were yellow with black stripes. The headlight was yellow, and the smokebox and cylinder head covers were aluminum.

The train appears to be ready for it’s run, with the tender piled high with coal. It looks like a man and his young son have engaged the engineer and fireman in conversation prior to their trip.

D&RGW 2-8-2 #473

Morning Passenger Trains

A pair of D&RGW 2-8-2 steamers are patiently waiting as their trains are prepared for departure. The location is Antonito, Colorado and the date is August 10th of 1940. The train at left, headed up by the #470, is the San Juan. At right, locomotive #471 is in charge of a mixed train (both passenger and freight) that is headed for Santa Fe, New Mexico. Antonito is where the branch to Santa Fe leaves the Rio Grande’s mainline.

Both of these locomotives are a class K-28, and were built by Alco Schenectady in 1923. The K-28s are easy to identify with their cross compound air pumps mounted on the front of their smokeboxes. Both of these locomotives would be sent to Alaska for service on the White Pass & Yukon railroad, this soon after the entry of the United States into WWII.

D&RGW 2-8-2 #470 & 471