Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:56 pm
The Galloping Goose
The Galloping Goose is an icon of Colorado narrow-gauge railroading, but it was born out of necessity: the Rio Grande Southern, facing bankruptcy in the 1930s, adopted these odd-looking, diesel-powered rail buses as a way of providing minimal service (and maintaining a mail contract) at minimal cost. The front half looked like a bus, the back half like a miniature box car. A fleet of seven or so Geese kept the RGS going into the early 1950s, when it gave up for good.
This page has more information on each individual Goose (and how they are currently preserved — all but one are still around); this page has a surfeit of detail (but no overarching narrative) about the Rio Grande Southern. I recall that this page had a whole whack of Goose photos, but it’s not responding right now. Via Boing Boing.
Not surprisingly, the Goose is a popular subject for model railroaders. Con-Cor makes a Goose in HO, HOn3 and N scales. (A sound decoder is available for the HO-scale Goose.) The Goose is small enough in HO scale — I’ve seen it in person — but the N-scale Goose is too small to accept a dual DC/DCC decoder (it’s DC now; they promise a DCC version in a later release). Though the prototype Goose was only narrow gauge, Con-Cor does not plan an Nn3 version, for technical and marketing reasons. For O scale, look to Precision Craft Models, which makes a DCC- and sound-equipped Goose in both On3 and On30.
Notably, both manufacturers make Geese not only in Rio Grande Southern garb, but also in non-prototypical gauges (i.e., standard and 30-inch) and paint schemes, like Great Northern, Santa Fe and New York Central. The assumption, I suppose, is that everyone will want one, even if they’re not modelling Colorado narrow gauge. Though unique, it might well serve a useful niche on many model railroad layouts. (I am amused by the school bus version.)