A grand old Goose spreads her wings. After decades running in circles at her home in the Colorado Railroad Museum, RGS Motor #7, one of the Rio Grande Southern's fabled Galloping Geese, gets a chance to really spread her wings on the 64-mile Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad during the Narrow Gauge Rendezvous event in August of 2016. She is seen here performing a late afternoon run-by for event patrons on the Cumbres Loop or Tanglefoot Curve, just east of Cumbres Pass. It was pretty clear from the happy faces of the Colorado Railroad Museum Crew that they were just having a grand time at this event, finally getting a chance to run their machine in open country. And that machine performed flawlessly.
RGS Motor #7....the railroad referred to these machines as "Motors" for most of their operational lives....was one of 7 hybrid rail-borne vehicles built by the Rio Grande Southern's shops in the 1930s. The railroad was facing hard economic times and was looking for a way to continue to fulfill their mail contracts and carry light passenger and freight traffic without the expense of a steam-powered train. The front of these vehicles were typically bus or truck bodies and the back half was usually a freight box or open stake-bed, all of which was mounted on railroad trucks. The largest units, such as #7, were 3-truck machines. They were powered by a variety of gasoline-burning, internal combustion engines and had only one crewman, who was called a "motorman." Initially, the larger units had Piece-Arrow Bus bodies, but three were later converted to Wayne Bus bodies, which provided more room for passengers. The #7 pictured here retains the original Pierce-Arrow body. For most of their operational lives, the freight boxes were used for cargo and had no windows. Toward the end of operations, these machines were modified to carry sight-seeing tourists, and the freight boxes had windows cut in, and seating added. Although the public adopted the name "Galloping Goose" for these machines very early on, the railroad resisted that moniker until near the ends of their respective careers in the early 1950s, when it was suddenly emblazoned on the sides of the bus bodies, as can clearly be seen here. Fortunately, all 7 of these machines survive in preservation. Most are in museums, but a few do travel occasionally. At this particular event, both Goose 5 and Goose 7 ran together as a miniature "flock."