Wow.

When 3Up Adventures announced back in November that we were taking to the road, we could hardly have expected that we’d have three different travel vehicles within six months. There was no expiration date to our travels but we knew that we wanted to eventually settle in one place again—we just didn’t have any idea where that would be.

When Forrest and I left Moab about three weeks ago we checked out some of the more remote parts of Southwestern Utah. We were supposed to be staying at “lower” elevations and planned on going to Gateway, Colorado but at the junction of US 50 and CO 141, we were struck with mountain fever and rationalized that Ouray (and Silverton and Ridgway) was only a couple of hours out of our way. We’d been wanting to check out SW Colorado for a long time thinking it might be one of the places we’d be really happy.

We got to Ridgway and I fell in love. It reminded me of Switzerland. 14ers everywhere! Exploring! Hiking! Brewery! Distillery! Young outdoorsy people walking around! Friendly people!

Fast forward three days of us bumming around and we started shopping for property. (Because there’s no time like the present for decent prices, right?) Browsing Zillow semi-jokingly, I found 40 acres with mountain views for a what seemed to be a pretty good price. We called the listing agent and arranged to meet her, rationalizing it to ourselves as “just to check it out, probably wasting her time.” (This didn’t stop us from spending hours researching public records on the property.)

The next day, we walked around the property and realized that it didn’t just have a view, it had The Views. To the north, we could see Grand Mesa, to the northwest the West Elk Mountains peaked over a ridge, to our east was Cimmeron Ridge, and to the southeast and the south are the San Juan Mountains. As our tour of the property came to a close, we glanced at each other and took a deep breath, we wanted to put in an offer.

Log Hill Mesa views

After the usual ups and downs of real estate offers, contracts, and closing, as of last Friday, it’s ours.

 

Buying more property this soon isn’t what we had in mind when we left Idaho but sometimes the unexpected things are the best!

 

(So yes, I was totally messing with you a little bit with the Where To Live post Friday.)

Galloping Goose(es)

Home of the Galloping Goose

Here’s a unique bit of railroad history from Colorado’s San Juan Mountain region. Forrest, Sprocket, and I have seen the replica of Motor #1 and the originals of Motor #4 and #5. I hope to see the others sometime in the future. I’ve included C.W. McCall‘s “The Galloping Goose” for your listening pleasure:

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Founded in Ridgway, Colorado in 1889, the Rio Grande Southern Railroad was a narrow gauge railroad founded to connect the towns of Ouray and Silverton. (Both of these towns were reached by branch lines of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad but were not directly connected). Soon after the railroad was completed, the Silver Panic of 1893 took away most of the railroad’s traffic.

Rio Grande Southern caboose

In an attempt to stave off bankrupcy, the Rio Grande Southern looked beyond the mines for a way to stay viable. In 1931, the railroad built RGS Motor #1 to be a cost efficient way to transport the U.S. Mail. The motor was built from the body of a Buick “Master Six” sedan. RGS Motor #1 could carry the mail, some passengers, or up to 4,000 pounds of freight. Motor #1 was so successful it paid for itself within a month. Unfortunately, the original Motor #1 was scrapped as parts for the other motors in 1933. A very exact replica of Motor #1 was built in 2000 by Karl Schaeffer and is on display at the Ridgway Railroad Museum. The replica is fully operational. (For more on the replica check out the Ridgway Railroad Museum’s Motor #1 page.)

The name “Galloping Goose” was not adopted by the railroad until 1950 but the name is believed to come from the “waddling” rocking motion the trains had going down the track. Another suggestion is that the air horns (compared to steam whistles) were compared to goose honking. Regardless, the informal name stuck while the railroad officially called them motors.

Motor #1 Replica

A larger Motor #2 was built later in 1931 using the same Buick body as Motor #1. In 1935, it was repainted silver to match the other Motors. In 1939, Motor #2 was revamped with a Pace-Arrow body and received many parts from a motor retired in 1939 from the San Cristobal Railroad (that motor was built in 1933 by RGS for the San Cristobal and is not considered one of the seven “geese”). Motor #2 was placed mostly on standby after its rebuild as newer motors were in use. Motor #2 undergoing restoration at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colorado and is considered operational.

Galloping Goose #4

Motors #3, #4, and #5 were all built with Pace-Arrow parts. They had three trucks (the middle truck was powered) and articulated bodies. Motors #3 and #4 were built in 1932 and Motor #5 followed in 1933. Motor #3 operates occasionally at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town & Calico Railway. Motor #4 belongs to the Telluride Volunteer Fire Department but is currently on display at the Ridgway Railroad Museum where it has been returned to operational status; its restoration is on going. Motor #5 is on display in Dolores, Colorado. Either in 1945 or 1946 (conflicting reports) Motors #3, #4, and #5 were refitted with Wayne bus bodies and WWII surplus GMC engines.

Galloping Goose #5

Motor #6 was built in 1934 mostly with parts from scrapped Motor #1. As a “work train” Motor #6 never saw passenger service. It is currently at the Colorado Railroad Museum and is considered operational.

Motor #7 was built in 1936 and is nearly identical to Motors #3, #4, and #5. Unlike the other motors, it retained its Pace-Arrow body when the others were updated to Wayne bus bodies. Along with Motor #6 it was used for scrapping the Rio Grande Southern operations. Motor #7 is located at the Colorado Railroad Museum and is operational.

Galloping Goose Logo

In 1950, the Rio Grand Southern lost its mail contract (trucks took over the task of driving the mail) and Motors #3, #4, #5, and #7 were converted entirely to passenger operations to attract tourists. Large windows were cut in the freight compartments and seating was added. It was at this time that the railroad formally accepted the “Galloping Goose” moniker for its motors and added the goose logos. Passenger operations ceased at the closure of the railroad in 1951.

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia: Galloping Goose (railcar)

Wikipedia: Rio Grande Southern Railroad

The Galloping Goose Historical Society

Ridgway Railroad Museum

American Steam & Narrow Gauge: Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose

 

Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton

After a chilly night in the parking lot of Thunder Mountain Raceway, we headed south through Montrose towards adorable Ridgway. We ate breakfast, walked around town, checked out the Railroad Museum’s outdoor displays, and generally became enamored with the place.

Ridgway, Colorado fire truck and fire station

After awhile, we headed for Ouray. It has more dramatic mountain views than Ridgway but comes with the bustling feel of a tourist town to match. I obliged and snapped pictures all over town. (Adorable Victorian buildings! Mountains!)

Ouray Colorado

Ouray County courthouse

Eventually we headed out of town making a quick stop to peer into the winter site of the Ouray Ice Park and to walk to Box Cañon Falls. (Sprocket was not a fan of all this metal grating!)

Sprocket at Ouray Ice Park

Box Canon Falls

Box Canon Falls

Box Canon Falls

Box Canon Falls

Finally we were on our way. The million dollar highway (US 550) is really one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever been on. I can’t wait to see it again in the summer time.

Million Dollar Highway Views

Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway Views

Mt. Abram

We headed up and over Red Mountain Pass (11,017’…Sprocket’s lifetime high point) to Silverton. Once a bustling silver mining town, it

Sprocket in military vehicle

Silverton City Hall

On our way back over the pass, we stopped to play in the snow. Sprocket was quite delighted.

Sprocket on Red Mountain Pass

Red Mountain Pass

Red Mountain Pass

Mining building