Lake City Branch Facts
Lake City was founded as a mining town on the northern boundary of the San Juan Mountains in the early 1870s. While silver mining boomed through the 1880s and the D&RG's narrow gauge main lay just to the south, it took the little railroad a while to actually connect up Lake City for direct service due to changing management priorities. Finally in 1889, the D&RG / D&RGW ran the Lake City Branch south from a junction with the Black Canyon mainline at Lake Junction (just west of Sapinero). The route followed the Lake Fork of the Gunnison southward, crossing several spectacular trestles along the 36 mile line.
By 1933, most of the traffic had dried up. However, back in 1925 a businessman by the name of Mike Burke had acquired the Ute-Ulay mine - once the branch's primary customer. Not wanting to have his investment stranded without a railroad, Mr. Burke purchased the to-be-abandoned branch from the D&RGW during February of 1934. His new railroad would be known as the San Christobal Railroad? (a mis-spelling of the largest nearby lake, Lake San Cristobal).
Having no locomotives, Burke's own 1928 Pierce-Arrow was converted into a Galloping Goose by McFarland-Eggers of Denver, similar to the Rio Grande Southern's Goose fleet. It make several successful runs, but was found to be lacking by August of that year. So, it was sent to the RGS shops to be rebuilt. Finally, on 20-Jul-1935, Burke made the final payment on the nearly $2400 bill and took the new Goose home. It made a few runs over the entire route until the snow started falling in late 1935, and was then put up for the winter.
After that, most sources agree that the San Christobal Goose never went very far. All reports show that in 1936, the Goose made a few short trips, but encountered impassible track shortly out of town. With the mine still closed, there was little reason to keep the branch. Mike Burke sold the Goose back to the RGS and had the line scrapped during the summer of 1937.
Lake City Branch Timetable