Economies created in wake of the train tracks
Photographer: Chione, Alfred G. (Morton, Ill.) Center for Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College
By Rob Carrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rio Grande Southern Railroad tool houses at Dolores, 1951.
Section house and storage at Dolores.
As the railroad attempted to recover from the panic of 1893 slowly, other issues had to be dealt with regarding mother nature. The railroad's route followed the Dolores River, which tended to flood many times during the railroad's lifetime.
Most of the terrain it went through experienced tons of snow in winter and occasional rock and mudslides in summer. The RGS was able to order two new rotary snowplows specifically for the railroad luckily before the panic of 1893 and later on built three plow flangers.
Still, depending on how deep the snow got, it often caused closures, and operating costs to operate trains with the necessary plow equipment was too much for the railroad at times because they required two to four locomotives to push them. Many Bridges and Trestles washed out when rivers flooded over, adding more costs to railroad maintenance and closures.
The Depression of the 1930s was devastating for RGS and forced the road into position in which they could not afford to operate a single steam locomotive (Paying for Fuel, Paying the Engineer and Fireman to operate the locomotive, etc.).
But still they had the responsibility to ship US Mail.
Chief Mechanic Jack Odenbaugh devised a way to construct seven homemade "railcars" in 1931, that would be cheap to build and operate, capable of transporting US mail and a few passengers. The official names given from the RGS were "Motors", but these railcars would later be unofficially named "Galloping Geese" by Railfans because of how they looked, operated, and sounded.
"Waddling down the poorly maintained, unlevel RGS tracks with a silver-painted body and hood covers that looked like goose wings when opened up to prevent the motor from over-heating, and the horn sounding somewhat like a honking goose."
The first Goose (RGS Motor #1) was built from a recycled Buick body, frame, and engine, and #2 and would be as well, but with a larger and enclosed freight compartment, a requirement to haul US mail. Motors #3 through #5 and #7 were built from Pierce Arrow bodies, but with freight compartments the size of a boxcar. Motor #6 was made from a Buick as well, but it was designated for Maintenance of Way (MOW) service, and only had a flatbed attached behind the cab. Later on, Motors #3 through #5 would receive replacement Wayne Buss bodies.
These motor cars indeed were successful and handled daily services until 1940 when the RGS could afford to run regular freight trains. Even after that, the Geese completely replaced revenue-generating passenger trains until abandonment; almost all passenger coaches the RGS owned at the time had been put into MOW service since.Rio Grande Southern Railroad train, schoolhouse, and wooden buildings on a main street.