If the Rio Grande Southern Railroad had ever been a profitable endeavor with the changing economy of its fledgling days, the “Galloping Goose” might never have been “hatched” to accommodate travel by rail in the remote and isolated regions of far southwestern Colorado. The railroad was conceived and built in 1890-91 by the unflappable “Pathfinder of the San Juans,” Otto Mears. The RGS’s early revenues came mainly from the numerous silver and gold mines near Telluride, Ophir and Rico. Hauling hundreds of tons of precious metal ores and hundreds of passengers in and out of the area made the financial condition of the railroad extraordinarily strong for its first two and one-half years! However, the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act caused the Silver Panic of 1893, and silver prices plummeted. As a result, many silver mines were closed, people fled the area by the thousands, and the railroad slipped into its first receivership that same year.
© Matthew Malkiewicz - Lost Tracks of Time