2019 Galloping Goose Winter Excursion on D&SNG

By March 5, 2019 Features

By Joe Becker, Galloping Goose Society of Dolores

The Galloping Goose Historical Society of Dolores, in conjunction with the Durango & Silverton Railroad, operated RGS Galloping Goose No. 5 on Friday February 15 and Monday February 18 on the D&SNG. Both days of excursions proved to be epic battles with the snow and an illustration of the challenges of narrow gauge winter mountain railroading.

On Friday, RGS Goose No. 5 departed Durango early in the morning, following a snow plow train clearing the path.

Soon the “Goose” was throwing snow itself, with its plow and rail flangers, just like a CDOT highway plow.

Stops were made where passengers could disembark to take photos.  During these runbys, Goose 5 would back up around a bend, out of sight, and then travel forward past video photographers and passengers.

At Rockwood, it was learned that the plow train encountered an avalanche across the tracks that it could not clear. Both the regularly scheduled passenger train to Cascade Canyon and RGS Goose No. 5 were turned on the Rockwood wye and returned to Durango.  RGS Goose No. 5 followed the passenger train, making additional photo runbys along the way.

On Monday, RGS Goose No. 5 was frozen to the rails outside the Durango roundhouse. Wheels were rung with a sledge hammer to break the icy bonds.

It again followed a snow plow train from Durango.  At Rockwood, it was determined that avalanche danger in the Animas Valley was too great to safely proceed to Cascade Canyon.

Negotiating Rockwood cliffs.

Instead, the “Goose” was turned and backed down to the High Bridge crossing of the Animas River, for photo runbys.

Vintage steam locomotive SP-18, visiting from Independence, California, also followed Goose No. 5 for photo runbys on the horseshoe curve on the High Line overlooking the Animas River.

SP #18 and train.

The plow train.

The returning plow train was also included in photos.  In worsening weather conditions RGS Goose No. 5 returned to Durango, making liberal use of its on-board sanders.

Bedded down in Durango with SP 18, on loan to teach D&NG about oil firing.

With the predictions of record snow falls, D&SNG prudently closed its railroad. This cancelled the Dolores Elementary School 5thGrader outing and RGS Goose No. 5 passenger train activities that were planned later in the week.  These activities will soon be rescheduled.

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