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Ridgway Railway Museum 7/7/2021

by Chris Guenzler

After a good and filling Subway lunch, I drove us north up US 550 north towards Silverton. About thirty miles from Silverton a highway sign said "US 550 closed ahead". We drove north to where the cars were stopped and parked in line at Milepost 55. The flag girl told us that it would be forty-five minutes to three hours as an RV had gone off the road. Luckily I had the Durango & Silverton Magazine to read. More luck happened forty-five minutes when the girl told us the road was opening. Five cars came by before it was our turn to go continue up the road.

At the wreck site this is what we passed. We continued noth up US 550 before dropping into Silverton.

The view of the mountain peaks as we dropped down the grade.

The 3:00 train back to Durango and a helper engine on the wye at Silverton. We then drove the Million Mile Highway up and over to Ouray then dropped the rest of the way to Ridgway and arrived right before 3:00 PM.

Ridgway Railroad Museum

Ridgway, Colorado, long known as the birthplace of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad, is the home of a museum dedicated to the preservation of the history of railroading in Ouray County and surrounding areas.

The Ridgway Railroad Museum, located at the junction of U.S. Highway 550 and Colorado State Highway 62 is open every day during the summer months (June 1 through September 30th) from 9 am to 5 pm. During May and October the Museum is open every day from 10 am to 3 pm. We are closed during the winter months. There is no charge to visit the museum but we do accept donations.

The Ridgway Railroad Museum is a non-profit, member supported organization whose mission is to explain and interpret the role and significance of railroads in the history of this region by use of exhibits, a reference library, educational programs, publications and sharing information with historical and modeling groups.

The Museum will preserve railroad equipment, artifacts, historical data, books and photographs of Ouray County and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

Our Visit

We parked in the parking lot and then met our host, the most wonderful Karl Schaeffer.

Rio Grande Southern coach 252 built in 1880. The south end has a Miller Hook coupler arrangement while the north end has a Janney coupler applied in 1903.

Picture of the unrestored car.

The seats in this car are restored but not the chairs in the middle.

The lighting in this car.

Here is Karl explaining the car to us. We went back outside.

The Miller Hook coupler arrangement of the south end of the Rio Grande Southern coach 252.

A tractor used the move snow off the tracks.

Equipment from the Ridgway Roundhouse.

Denver Rio Grande Business Car C built in 1882.

Mack Brothers Motor Car 50 built in 1905 and sold to the Unitah Railroad.

Silverton Northern Stover Motor Car 2 built in 1908.

Casey Jones railbus was built in 1915 out of a Model T and is a predecessor of the Galloping Goose.

Rio Grande Southern 1 with Otto Mears standing by.

A display of all of the Galloping Goose.

Restoration of a Galloping Goose.

How not to run a railroad.

More of how not to run a railroad.

Famous people of the Rio Grande Southern.

White Hell - Snow!

Rio Grande Southern Ridgway Depot.

Rio Grande Southern style Fairmont Speeder originally belonged to Western Power Company.

Denver Rio Grande 20 ton box car 04914 built in 1896 converted to water service car.

Water tanks along the Denver Rio Grande Railroad narrow gauge.

Railroad shovel display in this car.

A light in this car.

The water spout from the Dallas Divide Water Tower.

The pre-restoration of this Denver Rio Grande 20 ton box car 04914.

The unique trucks on this car.

The link and pin coupler on the south end of this car.

Engine 464 number boards.

Information on caboose Denver Rio Grande 91 and Denver and Rio Grande Western 0575 built in 1886.

Denver and Rio Grande Western caboose 0575 as painted on the east side.

Denver Rio Grande caboose 91 as painted on the west side.

Rio Grande Southern concrete Milepost 11.

Denver and Rio Grande 25 ton stock car built in 1903.

Denver and Rio Grande 1020 as a 25 ton high side gondola converted a rider coach.

Denver and Rio Grande 3130 25 ton box car built in 1903.

Denver and Rio Grande 3130 as a 25 ton high side gondola built in 1903. We next walked over to their shed which Karl unlocked and opened the doors.

In their shed is Galloping Goose 4 Model T built by Ridgway in 1932.

The diamond stack of Rio Grande Southern 36.

Two coal stoves from the Ridgway Roundhouse.

The Rio Grande outbuilding built in 1890.

Railroad car trucks.

30 pound rail display.

60 pound rail display.

90 pound rail display.

Coal mine car from a local coal mine.

Replica of Rio Grande Southern Motor 1 is the orginal prototype of what became the fleet of seven which are now commomly called Galloping Goose. Elizabeth and I would ride up in the back while Karl would operate the car.

The controls of the replica of Rio Grande Southern Motor 1. What is missing? The steering wheel.

In this picture looking north down the tracks are the Yard Limit Sign, 10 mph sign, the "S" which is a station sign, the "W" sign is for whistle and upper arrow is for the "flanger" to warn operators to raise their plow blades for grade crossings to prevent damage. Now our trip would start with a toot of the horn. Now sit back and enjoy two laps round the half of a mile track.

Our trip around this most wonderful railroad. We thanked Karl for our ride and all of his efforts with us this afternoon. Elizabeth and I walked over to the Rio Grande Southern station.

The relocated Rio Grande Southern station built in 1891. On the way back I put a twenty dollar bill in the donation box.

Karl backing the replica of Rio Grande Southern Motor 1 back under the cover of the shed. We thanked Karl one more time before we left Ridgway. We headed west of Colorado 62 to Placerville to Colorado 145 which we took to Telluride to our next station.

The Rio Grande Southern Telluride Station built in 1891. From here we took Colorado 154 south over Lizard Head Pass.

Beautiful Colorado mountain peak. We drove to Rico and stopped when we spotted something.

The headframe of the Atlantic Cable mine.

The ore car with a plaque explaining the town's history. From here I drove Elizabeth and I to Cortez where we had dinner at Arby's, filled the car with petrol at Speedway then checked into the Days Inn. Our usual evening activities were done before we called it a night.