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Answer Girl: Casper-Lander train history

Answer Girl: Casper-Lander train history

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Hey, Answer Girl,

Do you have any record of a train that ran from Casper to Riverton to Lander in the early ’30s? I saw it once. They called it the “Galloping Goose.” — Robert

Dear Robert,

In 1906, the government announced that 2,285 square miles of Shoshone reservation would be open to settlement. At the time, there was railroad service from the eastern border of Wyoming to Casper. The Chicago and North Western Railroad (then Wyoming and North Western Railroad) extended the tracks from Casper to Lander to transport the settlers and their belongings to the land, located north and west of Lander.

Train service between Casper and Lander operated from October 1906 to November 1972, said Carol Thiesse, director of the Fremont County Pioneer Museum in Lander.

The first passenger train arrived in Lander on Oct. 17, 1906.

“The arrival of the first passenger train in Lander occurred today. Several hundred people living in that part of the country saw a train of cars for the first time,” read one passage in Mokler’s Chronology.

A timetable, dated Feb. 1, 1942, showed that the train made a round trip once a day Mondays through Saturdays.

In 1943, U.S. mail service was removed from the railroad, as was passenger service, Thiesse said.

“As you can imagine, this brought out all the chambers, clubs and organizations to try and block this action,” she wrote in an email.

A Casper Tribune Herald article published on April 20, 1943 reported that service from Casper to Lander was reduced to three times a week, to the chagrin of area milk producers.

While there was an engine commonly nicknamed “Galloping Goose,” there is no record of that particular engine being used on this route.

The term describes passenger motor car trains, which had gasoline or diesel engines forward of the passengers in the car and behind the engineer, said Joe Piersen, archivist for the Chicago and North Western Railroad Historical Society in Deerfield, Iowa.

“The [1942] timetable indicates that the run-through cars were coaches, which I assume meant standard cars and not a Galloping Goose,” he wrote.

Data for this article was derived from several sources. I’d like to give special thanks to Vincent Crolla, archives specialists at the Western History Center in Casper, Carol Thiesse, director of the Fremont County Pioneer Museum in Lander, Joe Piersen, archivist for the Chicago and North Western Railroad Historical Society in Deerfield, Iowa, the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University and The Wyoming State Journal in Lander.

Answer Girl tackles questions about Casper, the universe and everything else. Submit your questions by email to Carol Seavey at carol.seavey@trib.com, call her at 307-266-0544 or write to Answer Girl, P.O. Box 80, Casper, WY 82602.

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