Mudhens, Galloping Geese, and Chili

If you are a railfan, whether capturing rail images or riding historic trains, southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico are stops you don’t want to miss.  The area roughly south and west of Denver and north of Santa Fe is home to today’s BNSF and UP freights.  In the area just outside of Colorado Springs freights from both of these carriers can be seen regularly.  Of more interest to many, however, are the historic routes of the Denver & Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Southern.  Remnants of these railroads remain today and, in many cases, offer rides on restored rolling stock pulled by restored steam engines.

In the northern portion of this area one can find the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden and the Georgetown Loop with its high bridge and loop.  The railroad museum also offers rides on their equipment on some days.  I was lucky enough a few years ago to get a ride on one a Galloping Goose – historic rail cars combining parts from autos with parts from rail equipment to save money and keep lines open.  Fewer than ten of these vehicles were built by the Rio Grande Southern based on either Buick or Pierce Arrow vehicles.


Going further south you find remnants of several other historic routes including the opportunity to ride the rails along the Arkansas River in the Royal Gorge.  While this trip doesn’t use steam power, it is still a fun day trip which provides time in the same day to see the Royal Gorge Bridge and other sites at the top of the Gorge.


Near Colorado Springs you can also ride the cog train up Pikes Peak.  With some luck you will see wildlife as you make the trip up and down the mountain.


Going further south you will find, among other locations, the tourist routes of the Durango and Silverton and the Cumbres and Toltec railroads.  On old D&RG routes, these narrow guage trains give you the opportunity to ride behind power like the “Mudhens” and other steam engines used on the D&RG (later the Denver & Rio Grande Western) and the Rio Grande Southern.


And for the chili, the D&RG once ran a line to Santa Fe.  While this line has long been abandoned and the rails removed, some information I have seen says you can still see the original roadbed in many locations.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *