“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Ridgway in Ouray County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Ridgway Railroad Museum

The Rio Grande Southern Railroad

Ridgeway Railroad Museum Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Packer Chapter 100 E Clampus Vitus
1. Ridgeway Railroad Museum Marker
Inscription.  Otto Mears was a Russian immigrant known as the "Pathfinder of the San Juans." He developed a network of toll roads and narrow gauge railroads that established the routes of most of this area's highways.

Mears' crowning achievement was the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. Incorporated in 1889, it ran from Ridgway, which Mears founded as the headquarters, through Telluride and Rico to Durango. It was 162 miles long and crossed more than 140 bridges and trestles.

Construction was completed in December, 1891. Wildly successful at first, Mears issued silver and gold passes and planned to extend the line to the west coast. However, the crash of silver prices in 1893 and closing of most of Colorado's mines dramatically affected the states railroads and the R.G.S. slid into receivership. For the next 60 years, the line survived despite snowstorms, rock slides and economic disasters.

During the Great Depression, the R.G.S. depended on a mail contract for steady cash flow. Delivering mail by steam train was expensive, so management decided to build automobile-based rail buses to carry mail, passengers and light freight. Seven of these vehicles,

<i>Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) Goose 4 just out of Ridgway CO</i> image. Click for full size.
Ralph E. Hallock (courtesy of Denver Public Library), January 4, 1947
2. Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) Goose 4 just out of Ridgway CO
which became known as the "Galloping Geese" were built in the Ridgway roundhouse. They were so successful that the railroad stayed in business through 1951.

Dedicated Sept. 22, 2012, Al Packer Chapter 100, Colorado, E Clampus Vitus
Erected 2012 by E Clampus Vitus Al Packer Chapter 100 Colorado.
Location. 38° 9.067′ N, 107° 44.987′ W. Marker is in Ridgway, Colorado, in Ouray County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 62. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 150 Racecourse Road, Ridgway CO 81432, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. San Miguel Valley Bank Robbery (approx. 15.7 miles away).
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars


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Credits. This page was last revised on October 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2019, by Frank Gunshow Sanchez of Hollister, California. This page has been viewed 47 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on October 21, 2019, by Frank Gunshow Sanchez of Hollister, California.   2. submitted on October 23, 2019, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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