Intro
History
Remains
Models
#455
Goose
Reference
Links

There are some remnants of the Rio Grande Southern which are still standing. If you are interested in seeing some of these remnants, then the following information should help you locate them.


Out Along the Line

Ridgway

Ridgway is located on Hwy 62 just west of the intersection with Hwy 550. Just before driving into the town proper, look to your right. The depot has been converted into a house and is very well maintained.

Image of the Ridgway Depot

Just before you leave town on Hwy 62, near what is a bus yard I think, take the road to your right, which will drift down into the valley. After about half a mile or so you will cross the old right-of-way. To the right, back towards town, about a quarter of a mile from the road is the site of the original engine yard and facilities. Still quite a lot there, including the roundhouse foundations and pits, lines of ties (without rails of course), some tie plates and spikes (etc).

As this is on private property, make sure you ask the owner, Brian Kolovich, for permission to walk the site. Brian is a local realtor whose office is next to the sandwich shop with the outside decking back in town on Hwy 62.

Omega

The Omega aerial tramway terminal used to be found alongside Hwy 62, about two miles north of Placerville. Unfortunately this was removed a few years ago when a housing development was in the wind. You can still see the upper tram house high up on the cliff though.

Driving through this area you will cross over Dallas Divide. This is a beautiful strech of mountains as shown in the image here.

Placerville

Located on Hwy 145 near where it intersects with Hwy 62 is Placerville. Quite a few things still remain in this area.

The depot has been split into three sections. One section is located, one street up the hillside, parallel with the Hwy. Another section has been added onto the old Post Office (next to the General Store), whilst the last section is now a residence just north of the General Store.

Image of the Placerville Depot

The RGS freighthouse/warehouse still stands right along side the highway, whilst the Texaco and Conoco bulk-oil depots can still be found right near the junction of Hwys 62 & 175. (Just heard that the warehouses have been removed and the whole area paved over. June 1999).

Image of Warehouse 1
Image of Warehouse 2

Sawpit

Travel south from Placerville on Hwy 145. A couple of miles past Placerville keep an eye out on the right hand side for an ore tipple. A dirt road leads off the highway for a hundred yards or so to the tipple.

This tipple is currently under restoration. Thanks to Fritz Klinke of the primary contractors performing this work, for the update. The contractors have resecured the cables on a new anchor system, and are raising the structure itself to be put on a new base of timbers. It will also be re-roofed, and new siding installed for the top section.

Image of the ore tipple
A section of the roadbed south of Vanadium

Vance Junction

To get to Vance Junction, look for the forest access road for "Ames". Follow this road until you sight the remains of the coal tipple which is all that's left. The Forest Service is apparently restoring the tipple to stop it "disappearing" entirely. Good on 'em.

Coal Tipple from across the river
Close up of the Coal Tipple
And an even closer one
And an even closer one
Bridge footings just north of Vance Junction

Ames

There was once a water tank and a high trestle bridge near the slide at Ames. Now little remains but the roadbed and a few hoops left from the water tank.

Ilium

At llium the R.G.S placed a wye to turn trains in the Vance Junction area. Two legs of the wye had to cross the creek and were on small timber bridges. The bridge at the south leg of the wye is still standing , whilst only the bridge abutments for the north leg can be seen.

The Keystone Hill section of the Galloping Goose trail starts on the east side of the road to Ames, less than a mile south of the Ilium site. It is marked by a sign with a trail map. Just to the west of where the road meets the start of this trail, the grade crossed the river on a trestle whose footings are almost gone. However, the approaches to the trestle on both sides of the river are obvious. This was the southernmost point of the Ilium loop.

Also, after crossing the road bridge to the Ilium camp from the Ames road, there is a dirt road off to the left that follows the old grade south to the Ilium loop. A short way down this road there are some sections of rail sitting on the ground and sticking out of it.

A more interesting artifact near Ilium is the wreckage of the tender of RGS locomotive #19 that ran away on Keystone Hill in 1907. A description of this event may be found in Josie Crum's book on the RGS. A picture is on p. 177 of "The Silver San Juan" by Mallory Hope Ferrell. The wreckage is just to the east of the Ames road, a little way north of where the Keystone Hill trail starts.

Image 1 of the tender
Image 2 of the tender
Image 3 of the tender

Keystone Hill

From Ilium, the line had to climb a steep grade on the way to Telluride. This is known as Keystone hill

This part of the Galloping Goose trail is well worth the effort if one is in reasonable shape. The 4% grade may have been a problem for locomotives, but it's easy for hiking and biking. A bit too easy perhaps; a railfan walking this grade with visions and sounds of narrow gauge railroading dancing in his/her head will likely have their reverie disrupted by (possibly lunatic) mountain bikers, who like the Galloping Goose trail because it is one of the easiest bike runs in the area. But the views to Vance Junction to the west are worth any two-wheeled aggravation. In fact, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em; bring your own bike! Not many artifacts, but some ties and other telltale signs of the old railroad are there.

Trestle location image
Image of the Keystone Hill grade

Telluride

The depot is located close to where it alway has been on South Townsend street in Telluride. (It was moved somewhat when restored). It has been well restored and is now a Micro-Brewery and Restaurant. A good spot for lunch (if open).

Image of the Depot

Goose #4 can be found on Colorado Avenue, tucked away in a little alcove next to the Court House.

Image of Goose #4

If you continue on Colorado Avenue through Telluride for about a mile you will reach the old mining complex at Pandora. The machinery may now look a bit "modern", but the feeling this scene evokes at the end of the box canyon is still the same. Ingram falls still look as spectacular as ever.

Image of the Pandora mill

Butterfly

From Ilium towards butterfly, the first few miles of this route are driveable (note: it's nice to be able to drive along the old grade and imagine you're riding a train, but the problem is that the act of making the grade into a road usually removes any trace of the railroad from the route). This road (I think it's called Sunshine Mesa Road) is definitely on the old roadbed until it turns west steeply uphill a few miles south of Ilium.

After this point one must hoof it or bike it to continue on the RGS grade. This additional 2-3 mile (one-way) hike or bike is DEFINITELY worth it. This grade seems to be largely untouched since abandonment. There are places where it looks like ties were moved to one side or the other to make the path more passable, but in most places the remnants were left as is. And there are lots of them; the Ames siding is easy to find. The walk to Windy Point across the Ames slide (and others) is spectacular, with the Ophir Needles across the valley to the east. The Ames trestle remains are there; an easy path around them is provided. The trail rounds Windy Point and goes on to Butterfly, the site of the trestle leading to the Ophir Low Line. A new footbridge is provided to cross there which allows people to get across to the Low Line.

Note: there are seasonal streams that cross this path; They may only be few inches deep, but certainly enough to make your feet uncomfortable for the rest of the walk if you didn't take your shoes off. I'd recommend a bike, which can be ridden through such obstacles.

Image of Windy Point

Ophir

Between Placerville and Trout Lake look for the side road which directs you to "Old Ophir". Stop on the side road. This is the location of the Ophir loop.

Image of the RGS roadbed on the way to Ophir

The Highway now covers the old station depot, but the Silver Bell mine can be seen and the "Gilton Club" building which stood in Ophir during the railroad era still exists. (Except now instead of being above the railroad grade, it is well below the grade of the highway).

Image of the Silver Bell Mine
Image of the Gilton Club

The trestle bents for bridge 45A can be seen below Ophir, although obviously not in "standing" condition.

Image of bridge 45A's footings & remains

Images looking down on the high line and the low line from the highway.

Roadbed
Bridge Remains
High Line Bridge Remains

Surprisingly, the entire Low Line and part of the High Line are driveable (given care and/or reasonable clearance). An unmarked dirt road drops steeply off the west side of the highway at Ophir Loop; a little way down this road there is a sign warning that private property is on either side of the path, and to stay on it. Continue down this road, and it crosses the High Line. Park here, turn to the left and you can walk to the remains of one of the bridges on the High Line. The High Line is not passable beyond this point. You can also walk to the right to get to the one end of bridge 45B, the smaller of the two trestles at Ophir Loop.

Concrete Footings of Bridge 46-D

After checking out the High Line, you can continue down the access road to the Low Line. To the right is the west end of the long bridge 45A. To the left, you can drive all the way to Butterfly and walk across the new footbridge to the path described above. I didn't see much in the way of artifacts on the Low Line.

Image of the Ophir Needles
Towards Ophir from Windy Point

Matterhorn

The Matterhorn mill can be found just off the Highway a little south of Ophir. The RGS stopped to serve the mill and the small township that sprang up around it for much of its life.

View of the Matterhorn mill
Another view of the mill

Trout Lake

Trout Lake is found alongside Hwy 145. (It's kind of hard to miss a lake). Turn on to the forest access road for "Trout Lake / Lizard Head" and follow it alongside the lake. This is the old RGS right of way.

Image of Tout Lake. Spot the water tank.

Just a little way along is the Trout Lake water tank which is in a fairly reasonable condition. Also in this area is believed to be a coach (#252) now used as a residence.

Image of water tank

Continue along the access road until you come to the last remaining trestle bridge. This is bridge 51A. If you continue on along the access road you will arrive at Lizard Head Pass, where the road rejoins Hwy 145. (Yes you can drive right through again. The bridge which was down has been replaced with a culvert, again opening up the road).

Image of Bridge 51A
Another image of Bridge 51A
Lower angle image of Bridge 51A
Close-up of trestle bent
Close-up of the bridge ties

Note: This bridge will hopefully get some of the restoration care being shown to other RGS sturctures such as the Vance Junction coal tipple and the ore tram at Sawpit

Lizard Head Pass

Lizard Head Pass was one of three passes the RGS had to cross. At over 10,000 feet it spends much of it's time under a thick layer of snow as shown in this

1998 view
Image of aproach
Another image of aproach

Gallagher Trestles

The Gallagher Trestles were two trestle bridges which helped form a 180 degree (or so) loop of track. To fit in the loop, the track had to cross the creek twice.

Little remains can be found in this area, although the scenery is spectacular.

The area covered by both trestles
Image of the roadbed approaching Gallagher
Image of trestle bridge footings
Approach embankment
Close up of bridge footings
Image of the roadbed after Gallagher

Rico.

Rico is located on Hwy 145 south of Lizard Head. The only thing still standing is the old water tank. This is located in the old yard area parallel to, and below the Hwy. The tank is in pretty bad shape and is fenced off for protection.

Note: This structure will hopefully get some of the restoration care being shown to other RGS sturctures such as the Vance Junction coal tipple and the ore tram at Sawpit

Image of the Rico water tank
Image of the roadbed in Burns Canyon
Image of the Burns Canyon bridge abutments

Dolores

South of Rico on Hwy 145 is the town of Dolores. Here a replica of the Dolores depot has been built by the Historical Society. Stop and have a look inside for items of interest. Outside is goose #5 on a short length of track.

Image of goose #5
Another image of goose #5
Image of the rebuilt Dolores depot
Historical view of Dolores

Also in this area is coach #256 now owned by the Galloping Goose Historical Society for restoration. Just north of Dolores, a small trestle can be seen in a field about 60 yards in from the Highway. (On the eastern side).

Mancos

Some items still remain in Mancos. Thanks to Jeff Pope for this information.

The depot was split in two, with the freight room section moved onto a farm pasture north of town, along the highway to Dolores. The remainder of the depot was incorporated into a house which stands on Riverside Ave, several blocks south of the original location near the tracks.

One of the original bunkhouses remains, in its original location, just west of town and along the R.R. right-of-way. It now stands in the middle of a field, fenced off and in poor condition. Two other bunkhouse-type buildings, originally on the north side of the tracks, across from the depot, are also said to be still in Mancos, incorporated into a house somewhere.

East Mancos

The East Mancos water tank may still be located by those keen enough. Some help from a topographical map of the area will definitely come in handy though. For t hose who want to try, here are some directions:

About 18 miles west of Durango on Hwy 160 is FR316 (this is one of the forest access roads). Last I heard, the road was marked as the "Madden Peak Road".

Turn left onto FR316 (coming from Dolores) and drive north for about 1.25 miles until it intersects the old RGS grade. (About 1.1 miles). The grade isn't too hard to identify, but you will need to look out for it.

From here you'll need to walk. Turn left up the grade and hike for about 1 to 1.5 miles. You'll see the tank as you get near. Beware, recent information has a barbed wire fence running across the roadbed. If you cross this to reach the tank, you will be trespassing, and the current owner does not appreciate trespassers.

The East Mancos water tank

If instead of turning left up the raodbed to the East Mancos tank, you turn right, you an travel about 6 miles. (~MP132.7-139). This is on forest road 568 You will pass the remains of the Starvation Creek trestle, (the road bypassed the trestle). Be carefull of the time of the year or else the creek will be too deep to cross. A 4WD is recommended for this part of the grade.

A couple of images of the grade between MP132.7 and 139
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Millwood

Not much left, but here's a few images of the right-of-way taken in Sept 1996.

Durango

Everybody in south west Colorado ends up in Durango. There's nothing of the RGS left to see here, but a trip on the Durango and Silverton is still worth while.


Galloping Goose Trail #499

The U.S. Forestry Service has recently (late 1996, early 1997) turned part of the Rio Grande Southern right-of-way into a hiking and mountain bike trail. I should thank Don Paulson for the detailed info. It is a section of the line from Telluride, down Keystone hill to Vance Junction, and from Vance, on up through the Ophir Loop to Trout Lake and Lizard Head. Of course the trail is well marked with small "Galloping Goose" signs to point the way.

Map of Galloping Goose Trail

Obviously not all of the trail is on the old roadbed (as some of it just doesn't exist any more) and some of the roadbed is now part of the Jan Juan Skyway (Hwy) or a forest access road. Anyhow this should make for some very interesting hikes through the San Juans.

Windy Point (Looking South)
Windy Point (Looking North)

If anybody has some more information on this trail, or some photos they think would be appropriate, don't forget to drop me a line.


Colorado Railroad Museum

The Colorado Railroad Museum is located in Golden, just west of Denver. Here they have preserved locomotives, rolling stock and artefacts from many of Colorado's railroads, both narrow and standard gauge.

Located in the grounds can be found the following items from the RGS.

There are probably other items here from the RGS, but I wasn't looking for them when I was last there. If anyone knows of additional items, please drop me a line.


Ridgway Railroad Museum

The Ridgway Railroad Museum has recently started to put together a display of railroad artifacts in Ridgway.

Track and ties have been donated by the Durango and Silverton Railroad and other equipment is on the way. Including a replica of Goose #1.

  • Replica of Goose #1 at Silverton
  • 5000 series DRGW Stock car (sheep) purchased from a private owner in Oklahoma.
  • Coach #250 (used as the Vance Jct depot), will be obtained from the Colorado Railroad Museum.
  • Believed that the RGS Modelers Club may donate a Gondola.

Galloping Goose Historical Society

The Galloping Goose Historical Society in Dolores has restored goos #5 and has taken her on a few runs over both the Cumbres and Toltec, and the Durango and Silverton railroads.


Knottsberry Farm

This amusment park obtained narrow gauge locomotives and equipment from lines as they were closing down in the 1950's. They were used for a steam train ride around the park.

I'm sure there is more than this from the RGS at the park. If you know what else is there, please let me know.


Durango and Silverton

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have a few items of RGS equipment. Notably:

  • Locomotive #42 (2-8-0 - Non operational)
  • Coach #257 (Fully restored & operational)

Wagon Wheel Gap Project

A group of volunteers have purchased and are restoring the old line up through Wagon Wheel Gap to Creede. See there progress at thier web site: Wagon Wheel Gap Route of the D&RGW


Others

  • RGS Locomotive number 74 (from the CS and other roads) is currently in a municipal park in Boulder CO.
  • Caboose #0400 is on display in Georgetown.
  • Coach #260 is now at the Huckleberry Railway in Flint Mich.
  • Reefer #2101 (ex C&S 1113) is now at the Sundown & Southern RR. This is a private 3' RR camp (now non operating), near Hudson, Colorado. Click Here to check out the web site.

Further Information

If anyone has any further information on where remnants of the RGS can be found, then please let me know and I'll include it here.


References

  • Getz's Updated Patented Narrow Gauge Circle Tour (Charlie Getz) Narrow Gauge and Short Line Magazine - July/August 1994


>