The Galloping Goose chugs into history

photo of rail motor on a bridge



Motor #4 on the RGS Railroad south of Lizard Head Pass, circa 1950. The Railroad operated a series of these hybrid locomotives from 1931 to 1952 (Ridgway Railroad Museum Collection).

A Glimpse Into History:

In 1931, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was in bankruptcy. To cut costs they converted old automobiles into rail cars, creating a hybrid vehicle called a “motor” (later nicknamed the “Galloping Goose”). These motors required just one man to operate them, instead of the five people needed to run the steam locomotives. The railroad ran both the motors and the larger steam trains until the railroad was abandoned in 1952.

In the 1950s, the railroad lost the mail contract, so the motors were rebuilt to carry additional passengers. In the photograph above, Motor #4 is shown on a bridge over the San Miguel River near what is now the Ilium Trailhead, circa 1950.

photo of galloping goose logo
The railroad did not officially adopt the name “Galloping Goose” until the motors’ last few years of Operation. In 1951, this figure of a running goose was added to the railcar body.


 photo of galloping goose motor 1

Motor #1, shown here at Rico in the summer of 1931, could carry one or two passenger in the front and mail in the back. The two white flags indicate that this train was an extra, and not the scheduled train for the day (Ridgway Railroad Museum Collection).

How To Get There: 
Leaving Telluride south on Hwy 145 approximatley 1/2 mile south of the Ophir Loop (FSR 630), look for a turn out on the east side of the road. You can park here and cross Hwy 145 to access the Galloping Goose Trail which turns into FSR 623 as it approaches Illium, Vance Junction and the Coal Chutes. (or) Leave Telluride on  Hwy 145 west and turn south on FSR 625 to visit Illium, Vance Junction and the Coal Chutes  To visit the Trestle - continue on Hy 145 south past Matterhorn Campground and turn on Trout Lake Road  (County Rd 63A) and  proceed about a 1.5 miles where the road crosses the Lake Fork of the San Miguel River.  Check out the Galloping Goose Mountain Biking Trail! (Brochure/Map). Looking for a place to stay? Check out the Matterhorn Cabin,  one of the Forest Service newest editions to the cabin rental program, located close by. This Forest Service Cabin sleeps 12.