Press "Enter" to skip to content

The caboose

by Forrest Whitman

A Magic Goose Ride

A buddy and I just rode the Gallopin’ Goose #5 on the Cumbres and Toltec R.R. It was a magical ride. We started out in a rainstorm at Chama; and as we reached the summit, a full moon lit up the golden aspens. There were deer, elk and a bobcat jumping out of the way. Food at the top was good too, with prime rib and baked chicken entrees.

They’ll be pulling out the Goose again and it’s a trip worth planning for. Built in the 1930s for the long defunct Rio Grande Southern, these geese are hard to define. Are they a train? Well, they do have air brakes, ride steel wheels, and carry markers front and rear, so they’re a train. On the other hand, they are built on an old school bus body and are powered by a W.W. II surplus gasoline engine from GM. They carried mail and freight too, so they were early UPS trucks. Ride them and decide what in the world they are. They’re great fun.

We stayed in Antonito in the historic railroad hotel. The 1911 hotel is right on Main Street across the street from a great traditional Mexican spot, The Dutch Mill restaurant (which has nothing to do with mills nor Holland). The hotel features 1911 furniture, new beds, and will have a restored elevator. Entrance is through the fire escape.


Fast Trains Are Coming

Helen Bushnell rallied the transit troops at a jolly recent meeting of Salida Rail Riders. Perhaps it was the venue (Vino Salida’s tasting room) or perhaps it was us, but the event was definitely upbeat. Helen reminded us that central Colorado was almost completely dependent on the private autos just a decade ago – not so today. She’d come into town on the bus (the Mountaineer Route) and found it almost full on a weekday.

Helen, a “transit activist,” sees demand for high- speed trains coming. At a recent meeting of Colorado Rail Passengers Assn., a transit expert from D.U. agreed with her. That’s partly because Gen X folks and “millennials” are not car lovers. They like their bikes and public transport, but find car ownership a pain. They are the future market.

Helen reminded us that it’s only been a year since Rocky Mtn. Rail Authority (a group including me on its executive board) released “the big study.” That study clearly shows that existing rail right-of-way along I-25, and largely existing right of way along I-70, is the best long-term solution to highway gridlock. Rail facts like that take time to sink in though, and powerful interests love those automobiles. We’ll see how it turns out.



• Colorado Division of Transit, at the CDOT, needs to hear from you! Helen urged us to voice our support for rail lest they fall back into their old lane – building habits. COLORAIL membership is still only $15 a year. That group is lobbying for trains.

• AMTRAK is in the picture for the new Denver Union Station and the bus from Colorado Central-land will use the facility. Believe it or not, The California Zephyr is running on time above 96% lately. Highball!