"Came a mighty strange contraption known to trainmen as a motor". The lyrics of Colorado story-teller Bill Fries' (aka C.W. McCall) 1970s song "Gallopin' Goose" come to mind as we watch Rio Grande Southern Motor #7 descend the 4% grade from Cumbres Pass to Chama, NM at Milepost 332.6, near Coxo Crossing. The 7 RGS Motors were indeed strange contraptions, conceived for the purpose of saving the railroad, which was perpetually mired in financial trouble. During the 1930s, when the depression was at its worst, the RGS needed to find a way to maintain its US Mail contract, serving many small towns in southwestern Colorado, and maintain some minimal passenger and freight capacity, without the expense of running steam-powered trains, and this was the solution. Built one by one in the shops in Ridgway, CO, these hybrid railcars were essentially the front half of a bus, mated with a boxcar and placed on three articulating trucks. They were powered by internal combustion engines which were far easier to fire up and far cheaper to operate than a steam engine. They could easily transport the "Ten bags a’ high-grade ore, two mothers nursin’ babies, seven miners an’ the mail" as the song notes, and for nearly 20 years, they did indeed keep the troubled railroad afloat.
Six of the original 7 Motors, known as "Galloping Geese" survive today and all are operational. A replica of the Goose #1 also exists and is operational. The example pictured here is the last unit built, which still sports the original Pierce-Arrow body. It resides in the collection of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO, where it runs periodically.