Since my column, "Casper-Lander train history," published on Jan. 17, readers have confirmed that a car commonly nicknamed "Galloping Goose" was operated on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Casper and Lander.
The term described a passenger motor car train, which had gasoline or diesel engines forward of the passengers in the car and behind the engineer, according to Joe Piersen, archivist for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Historical Society in Deerfield, Iowa.
"These cars had sufficient power to pull an additional coach or two as traffic warranted," wrote A.J. Wolff, a Cheyenne-based railroad photographer and author. "These type of cars were utilized during the 1930s since it did not make economic sense to operate a steam locomotive to handle one- or two-passenger cars over great distances during periods of depressed traffic levels."
Wolff said train photographer Otto C. Perry had taken many photos of the cars between 1931 and 1938, and that Perry's collection is on file at the Denver Public Library. To view them, go to http://history.denverlibrary.org/" target= "_blank">history.denverlibrary.org and search for "OP-3441" or "OP-3451" in the digital collections. Additional related images are catalogued as OP-3439 through OP-3448, Wolff noted.
While some people may have called it the "Galloping Goose," several readers told me that they referred to it as the "Puddle Jumper." Richard Antelope, 85, of Ethete grew up in Arapahoe. He said the Arapaho people called it the "Painted Face" because of the red and white stripes painted on the front of it.
Hey, Answer Girl,
I grew up in Riverton and my father was born in Lander. I have long heard a rumor about Lander folks coming over and knocking down Riverton folk's tents when the Wind River valley was beginning to be settled. Rural myth or fact? -- Jason
In the spirit of the popular Discovery Channel TV show "MythBusters," the answer is, "Plausible."
Loren Jost, director of the Riverton Museum, said that there is no evidence of settlers' tents in Riverton being knocked down, but it is likely. In 1906, people living in Lander and Shoshoni had a terrible feud over the land on which Riverton was founded.
Jost wrote of the feud in an email. Here's a summary of what happened:
The Shoshone reservation opened to settlement on Aug. 15, 1906, which led to the establishment of Riverton.
"Lander people had worked hard to make that [the opening] happen, and it's not unreasonable to assume there was a sense of entitlement among Lander people regarding the new town," Jost wrote.
However, the legal steps taken to establish Riverton were carried out by a group of men in the town of Shoshoni, where newcomers from across the nation were waiting for the land to open to settlers. Lots in Riverton were taken under squatters' rights: first come, first served.
People from both Lander and Shoshoni wanted the lots. However, the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, built in 1906 to carry settlers to the land, only extended from Casper to the area that would be Riverton. The section from Riverton to Lander was not yet complete.
As the opening date of Aug. 15 approached, those gathered in Shoshoni rode on work trains to Riverton, but people in Lander had to travel there by horseback and other horse-drawn conveyances. To get to Riverton, Lander people had to cross several streams: the Popo Agie, Little Wind and Wind rivers, all of which were swollen with storm runoff, which caused delays.
The Shoshoni townsfolk beat them to the lots, which made the folks from Lander quite angry. They asked the government's reservation agent, Harry Wadsworth, to do something about it, and he did.
Wadsworth was located in Wind River, which was near Fort Washakie. He had previously lived in Lander and had many friends there. He directed the commanding officer at Fort Washakie to order his soldiers to drive the Shoshoni squatters out of Riverton.
"He justified his actions with a rather presumptuous legal interpretation of the documents that provided the basis for the opening," Jost wrote.
Mounted soldiers swept the Shoshoni squatters out of Riverton. The settlers likely left their tents and belongings on their lots, either because they thought they would be returning soon or the soldiers didn't give them time to pack up.
When the Shoshoni squatters were gone, the folks from Lander moved in. It is plausible that the soldiers or Landerites knocked down tents left by the Shoshoni squatters.
The people from Shoshoni were incensed, and sent telegrams to Washington demanding action from their representatives. As a result, the Lander squatters were cleared from Riverton.
After a few days, authorities in Washington sent a telegram saying that Harry Wadsworth had exceeded his authority and that, indeed, Riverton was open for settlement. Once again, train access gave the people in Shoshoni the advantage, and they settled the town.
Everyone was angry. The people of Lander remained bitter, and the people of Shoshoni, even though they got their land, felt that they, too, had been abused.
When the railroad company wanted to name the new town "Wadsworth" and put signs of that name on the depot, the townspeople revolted. Two months later, the railroad took down the signs and replaced them with ones that said "Riverton."