The Rio Grande Southern Railroad twisted and turned its way over 162 miles of three foot gauge track between Ridgway and Durango in the south west of Colorado's San Juan mountains.

It was constructed by Otto Mears to reach the rich mining districts of Telluride and Rico. To achieve this task it had to travel over two mountain passes using four percent grades. The line first opened for business in 1890

Route Map

More detailed interactive RGS map

The RGS always struggled for it's existence. If mother nature was not trying to wipe out her road-bed, then her owners were trying to abandon her.

But she fought on with the assistance of people such as Victor A Miller, an appointed receiver, Jack Odenbaugh, the master mechanic who built the Galloping Geese, and all the staff and crew who kept her running.

Finally though she could take no more, back taxes were catching up, the mail contract was lost, and her customers were turning to the automobile / truck.

The RGS though has not yet died. The RGS lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who hold a fascination for this little line which cannot be explained.

Items of rolling stock have been restored, and many model railroaders (myself included) construct our own versions of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad.

Image of the local RGS scenery (30K)


  • Narrow Gauge in the Rockies (Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg) Howel North Books 1958

  • The RGS Story Vol 1 to ? (Russ Collman, Dell McCoy, William Graves) Sundance Publications 1990

  • Rio Grande Southern II (Richard Dorman) R.D. Publications 1994

  • Silver San Juan (Mallory Hope Ferrell) Pruett Publishing Co 1973)