Citation
Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad

Material Information

Title:
Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad
Series Title:
Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad
Creator:
Manion, John
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/tin-feathers-wooden-trestles-and-iron-men-galloping-geese-rio-grande-southern-railroad[12/8/2015 11:05:19 AM] Home Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern RailroadTin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern RailroadSubmitted by nwharton on 5-13-2012 10:21 AMAuthor: Stan Rhine Publishing: Golden, CO, Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, 2012, 82 pp, text citations, photos, maps, drawings, illustrations, bibliography. Reviewer: John Manion The Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) was built by Otto Mears in 1890 to serve the mining towns of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. Despite difficult topography, extreme weather conditions, and numerous financial obstacles, it operated 162 miles of track between Ridgway and Durango until 1952. This book describes one effort to save money to continue operations on the RGS during the Great Depressionthe famous Galloping Geese. Rhine provides a brief history of the RGS and describes its many troubles during its sixty years of precarious existence. Using second-hand locomotives and rolling stock, mostly from the Denver & Rio Grande and Rio Grande Western, RGS survived the silver crash of 1893, the decline of the mining industry, and the competition of rubber-tired vehicles. In addition, southwestern Colorado, which featured magnificent scenery, had a small population after 1893 and was largely inaccessible due to unpaved roads through mountainous terrain and heavy snows. Rhine describes not only RGS efforts toward alternative locomotion but also discusses other railroad efforts to reduce the expense of running trains with steam locomotives. RGS had already created an open inspection car from a 1911 Model T Ford. Something larger and more powerful was needed to provide passenger, mail, and LCL (less than carload) freight services to these remote mountain communities. RGS hired an auto mechanic named Jack Odenbaugh for the Ridgway shop crew, and he built Motor No. 1 from a 1925 Buick Model 45 touring car in early 1931. The vehicle used an extended frame, the front of the car body, and a stake bed. Odenbough and his crew built two more motors in 1931. Motor No. 2 was built from a Buick four-door sedan with an enclosed freight body behind and Motor No. 3 from a Pierce-Arrow limousine. Motors 4, 5, and 7 were built similarly to No. 3, and Motor No. 6 was a work motor built similar to No. 1. By the end of the 1930s, RGS had built seven motors and one additional short-lived vehicle for the San Christobal Railroad on the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Lake City branch. The term Motor EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWithin Colorado boundaries are lands once claimed by Spanish kings and Mexican governors.

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Tin Feathers, Wooden Trestles, and Iron Men: The Galloping Geese of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/tin-feathers-wooden-trestles-and-iron-men-galloping-geese-rio-grande-southern-railroad[12/8/2015 11:05:19 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us was officially used by the RGS, although by 1944, the term Galloping Goose was used locally. Rhine provides an appendix on the name Galloping Goose and its use by the RGS and other railroads for similar vehicles. He also provides an appendix on the Pierce-Arrow automobile, a well-known luxury car of the 1920s. The RGS could not have afforded a luxury car which sold for $7,000 or more, but they bought used cars for quite a bit less. The RGS motors survived World War II, rebuilding with war surplus bus bodies from the Wayne Company of Richmond, Indiana. These bodies allowed more passengers and provided doors on both sides for entry, as some of the buses were built for use in right-hand-drive England. These larger passenger carriers were used to attract more tourists to the scenic route, and the RGS finally began using the term Galloping Goose in advertising for scenic tours in 1950-1951. Books and articles about them as early as 1947 had referred to these vehicles as Galloping Geese. The Rocky Mountain Railroad Club began scheduling fan trips on the Galloping Geese in 1946, and a number of fan trips were run with the geese. Unfortunately, this was too late to save the RGS, which again went into receivership under J. Pierpont Fuller, who in late 1951 decided the RGS was in too bad a shape to continue operation and filed for abandonment with the ICC, which approved abandonment in April 1952. The route was sold for scrap, and the line was torn up by June 1953, with Motor No. 6 pulling the last rails up at Hesperus. The Galloping Geese, as well as some other motive power and rolling stock, survived the demise of the RGS. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden acquired and restored to operation No. 2, 6, and 7. Knotts Berry Farm of Buena Park, California, bought Motor No. 3 and operates it in the amusement park, along with D&RGW 2-8-0 #340 and RGS 2-8-0 #41. Motor No. 4 is on display in Telluride. Motor No. 5, restored to operational condition in 1998, is showcased at the depot-museum in Dolores. There are plans for all seven geese to waddle around the Colorado Railroad Museum at a Goose Fest from June 16 to 17, 2012. Although many sources have provided information on the RGS Galloping Geese, as early as 1947 in Lucius Beebes Mixed Train Daily Stan Rhine has provided a complete and up-to-date compilation of these unique vehicles and their history. He provides some humor in his narrative, frequently making avian references to this gaggle and even providing a two-page copy of Carl Fallbergs 1947 cartoon of adventures of a rail fan on the Galloping Goose. These contraptions were created from parts of used automobiles and railroad scrap, but they became a cost-cutting solution to the RGSs problems and one of the fondest artifacts of the historic railroad. The geese are fondly remembered in Stan Rhines fitting and readable description of these unusual denizens of the narrow-gauge rails. Reviewer Info: John Manion is a University of Colorado Denver graduate student in history. He grew up in Denver, graduating from South High School and then Colorado State University. For thirty years Manion worked in human resources for the Veterans Administration and the Navy. He is an Army veteran, having served as an infantry officer with the 82nd Airborne and as an infantry advisor in Vietnam. He is currently the exhibit coordinator for the Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society. Add new comment