The Galloping Goose No. 5 train in Dolores has always called the Galloping Goose Historical Society and Museum its home nest. Now the group can claim official ownership.
On Feb. 13, the Dolores Town Trustees passed a resolution transferring ownership of the Goose from the town to the Historical Society at no cost.
The ownership transfer contains conditions that guarantee the fully operational historic train will always remain a part of Dolores.
The Goose previously operated under a 2015 lease from the town.
It will continue to operate tourism excursions on guest railroads in Durango and Chama, New Mexico, but will return to roost in front of the museum in Dolores on Railroad Avenue.
The transfer of ownership agreement comes with some strings attached, said Town Attorney Jon Kelly.
In accepting the transfer of title, te Historical Society must abide by conditions and covenants, including:
- Flanders Park shall be the permanent home of the Goose, and it shall be displayed there when not running on guest railroads.
- It shall remain maintained to its restored historical look and working configuration.
- The GGHS shall maintain at its sole cost and expense adequate liability insurance coverage for the Goose while stored in front of the museum and while in transport and while operating on railways.
- The town of Dolores shall have the option and right of first refusal to repurchase the Goose for the sum of $10 in the event that GGHS: dissolves or merges with another nonprofit organization; becomes unable to maintain the Goose; attempts to give, lend, sell, donate or otherwise transfer ownership or possession of the Goose or store it outside the town of Dolores.
- GGHS agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the town on account of any injury, loss or damage that arises from the Goose.
Kelly said the agreement “protects an important resource to the town and a point of interest.”
He said relinquishing ownership limits the town’s potential liability if some accident were to happen. He said the town’s insurer has always been a bit nervous about covering an operating train that runs in two states.
GGHS board president Joe Becker said “ownership (of the Goose) has been the goal of organization since it started.”
In 2015, the GGHS asserted its ownership of the Goose, citing historical records. But after a contentious debate, the town of Dolores claimed ownership and retained the title.
Rio Grande Southern Railroad Goose No. 5 was bought from the railroad liquidator for $250 in 1953. Five people donated $50 each, representing the newly formed Dolores Rotary Club. The bill of sale, however, was made out to the town of Dolores to save on sales tax.
The Rotary Club had not yet established its nonprofit tax status. The seller offered to issue a second bill of sale to the Rotary Club once it gained nonprofit status. A corrected bill of sale was never issued, although the Dolores Rotary Club became an established nonprofit.
The Goose was displayed in the town park for 47 years. Rotary Club members tried to maintain it, but it still fell into disrepair. In the 1980s, the town threatened to scrap it as a town nuisance.
A grassroots effort was made to save it by creating the Galloping Goose Historical Society. It signed a long-term lease agreement with the town of Dolores for park land to build a replica Dolores railroad station. This building is now the museum.
In the late 1990s, GGHS signed a restoration agreement for the Goose with the its presumed owner, the Rotary Club. After restoration, GGHS signed an excursion agreement with the Rotary Club to operate the Goose on local narrow gauge railroads.
When one of the original buyers died, his safe deposit box was emptied. The original bill of sale was found, and the town of Dolores claimed to be owner.