The Galloping Goose Historical Society will operate its Dolores museum this summer after a year's closure caused by the pandemic, but whether the Goose will fly down the tracks this season remains to be seen. Sponsored by Big-O Tires and Keesee Motors
That's the sound of the Galloping Goose bell, the iconic motor-driven railcar that sits in front of the Replica Depot in Dolores. The Goose may not fly this year, but the museum is open to visitors. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Keesee Motors and Big O Tires in Cortez. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. It looks like a cross between a school bus and a railroad locomotive. The Galloping Goose Number 5 worked like a pack horse for nearly 20 years, delivering mail and the occasional passenger from Durango to Dolores over Lizard Head Pass and on to Telluride and Ridgway. And once again, you can drop by the Dolores Depot to learn more about the unusual railcar. The Galloping Goose Historical Society announced that it would open its museum to the public after closing for more than a year because of the pandemic. And the Goose may yet fly again in late summer or early fall. The Galloping Goose motor railcar in Dolores is one of only seven built by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, and it may not have been hatched at all had the railroad been financially successful. Otto Mears built the Rio Grande Southern route in the 1890s to transport passengers, farm products, fuel, lumber, and silver ore from the mining towns of Telluride and Rico to Durango. Unfortunately for Mears, he completed the 169-mile narrow-gauge track just in time for the silver panic of 1893, when silver prices plummeted and closed many of the mines in the area. The railroad struggled to survive and, during its bankruptcy in the early 1930s, it built seven rail cars to replace the more expensive steam locomotives to haul mail, passengers, and the occasional freight order along the line.
The Galloping Goose was originally built with a Pierce-Arrow limousine in the front. And they picked the Pierce-Arrow because that was the biggest engine around. It has very... great torque down low, so it's a stump puller. And they built a box on the back. The Goose that we have is, we call it a limousine model because there was, had a Pierce-Arrow limousine to start with and it's articulated, meaning it hinges in the middle. It's like a truck and trailer on a, on a semi-trailer.
After the railroad lost its contract with the U.S. Postal Service in 1950, it attempted to operate the Galloping Goose motorcars as a tourist attraction, but abandoned the line after a year. In 1953, members of the Dolores Rotary Club purchased car number five for $250.00 and relocated it to a park in town where it sat and slowly deteriorated. The Galloping Goose Historical Society formed in 1987 to restore the motorcar, but first built a replica station near the site of the original station to serve as headquarters for the restoration. It now serves as a gift shop and museum that preserves the history of the Rio Grande Southern, and yes, Galloping Goose Number Five still takes an occasional run on the Cumbres and Toltec narrow-gauge railroad that connects Chama, New Mexico with Antonito, Colorado, and it runs on the Durango and Silverton line during Rail Fest. The Cumbres and Toltec excursions have been canceled this year but Becker says the Historical Society still hopes to schedule the trip on the Durango track in late summer or early fall. Becker says that volunteers have maintained the Galloping Goose and have operated the museum for more than 30 years, a testament to the Goose's local popularity.
Goose Five was restored in 1998. It has operated almost every year since then. It has operated longer as a restored vehicle than when it was run by the railroad.
The museum is open from 10:00 to 5:00 Monday through Saturday, but call ahead to make sure. You can learn more about the Goose at gallopinggoosefive.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network serving Telluride, Cortez, and Durango in Southwest Colorado and San Juan County in Northwest New Mexico. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.