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Intersection Column | Lost Things Renewed

How an Extraordinary Vintage Automobile Sparked a Novel of Restored Friendships

by Amanda Dykes


As hearts of the world surged and fell in the Great Depression—people celebrated victories, grieved losses during World War II, and tried their bravest through it all to keep living well—a lesser-known chapter of history was unfolding. Deep in the colorful folds of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, steam trains which had been the artery of transportation, mail, and supplies grew too expensive to keep running. This led industrious minds to put their heads together to concoct a plucky automobile that could do the job: the Galloping Goose.

Is there anyone who wouldn’t love something called a “Galloping Goose”? Particularly when you realize the vehicle is part-train, part-limousine, and 100% ingenuity assembled from parts on hand in these remote mountain reaches. The Galloping Goose swayed down the rails with a jaunty motion that seemed to say, “Here comes a friend!”


When I first learned of these seven unlikely and endearing motor cars, each of them different from the next, I was captivated. I immediately started to wonder what life was like at that time in the San Juan mountain range of the Rockies. As wondering inevitably does for a writer, it led to a story idea: what would be the consequences of a single mail bag going missing? Particularly if there were life-long pen pals involved and a small-town community whose lives were intricately woven …


And so the idea for Born of Gilded Mountains was born. I wrote, re-wrote, edited, and edited some more. Finally, I looked back at the completed tale and realized that while I was writing what I thought was the story of a treasure hunt leading to a friendship restored, God was deepening that theme of restoration.


The novel follows Rusty and Mercy on their path to heal a broken friendship, but on the way they also discover that written into the crags and crevices of the mountains are treasure troves of lost dreams. Placed there before they were even born, to mend and restore their hearts at such a time as this. Hopes they had thought long expired are fulfilled in unexpected ways…for them, and many others.


This is a story of Joel 2:25: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (ESV).


It’s a story about letter-writers, but my hope is that it’s also a letter of hope to each reader. For the unseen hopes or hurts in their hearts, the whisper of restoration can come around them like a promise on the wind.


If we have a God who can sculpt messages into mountains for us, can He not also breathe life into those unseen corners of our hearts?


I hope just such a gift awaits anyone who takes a ride on Galloping Goose Engine No. 8 in the pages of Born of Gilded Mountains.


All aboard for hope restored!


About the Author

Amanda Dykes’ debut novel, Whose Waves These Are, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Christy Book of the Year Award, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, and the winner of an INSPY Award. She’s also the author of Yours Is the Night (Kipp Award, Christy finalist) and Set the Stars Alight (Historical Novels Review Editor’s Choice, Christy finalist), All the Lost Places (starred reviews from BooklistLibrary Journal, and Forword; Christy finalist). Find her online at


About the Book

In 1948, when outsider Mercy Windsor arrives in a time-forgotten Colorado haven after a scandal shatters her gilded world as Hollywood's beloved leading lady, she is determined to forge a new life in obscurity. She purchases Wildwood, an abandoned estate with a haunting history, and begins to restore it to its former glory. But as she does, her every move tugs at the threads of the mountain's lore, unearthing its secrets.


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