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Bob Lind, Published February 24 2009

Galloping Goose letters from fans keep rolling in

If someone formed a Galloping Goose fan club, it would have many members, based on the mail Neighbors receives about the old branch line trains. Among the writers:

Betty Blagen of Milnor, N.D., writes, “My father, Cap Froke, was depot agent in Blanchard, N.D. I attended my junior and senior year of high school (1937-1939) in Mayville, N.D., by riding the Great Northern Galloping Goose to and from Mayville every day.”

From Kenneth Skjegstad of Moorhead: “My hometown of Henning, Minn., was developed along the Northern Pacific, Fergus and Black Hills Railroad after the line was built in 1881. This branch line of the NP with its eastern terminus at Staples, Minn., diverged from the NP main line at Wadena, Minn., extended southwesterly for 25 miles or so and then west to Fergus Falls, Minn., Wahpeton, N.D., and on to Oakes, N.D.

“Our home was across the street from the rail line. The comings and goings of the Goose and the local freight trains were a familiar part of life as we were growing up.

“Coming from Staples, the Goose arrived in Henning early in the morning, 7 or so, and returned from the west around 5 or 5:30 p.m. It was a convenient schedule for people in our area, for it allowed a full day in Fergus Falls for business, shopping, visiting or attending to some legal matter at the county courthouse.

“The train also carried the mail. In late afternoons, Douglas Avenue, our ‘Main Street,’ was busy with people waiting to pick up their mail and their copy of the day’s issue of the Fergus Falls Daily Journal after it was delivered from the depot and distributed into mail boxes.

“I made this round trip to Fergus one day in 1948. It was a pleasant, somewhat scenic ride passing farms, lakes, woods and small towns.

“The Galloping Goose service on this line was discontinued in the 1960s. The NP abandoned this route in the 1970s.”

Louisa (Fields) Austin of Brownsburg, Ind., formerly of Jamestown, N.D., wrote to her niece, Susan Buhr of Fargo, about Louisa’s father and Jane’s grandfather, Thomas Fields, who was an engineer on the Goose. Sue passes her aunt’s note along:

“My sister Emma and I both rode the steam engines and the Goose with my father,” Louisa writes. “(His) last run before he retired was the Goose.

“I loved steam engines. My sister and I would take turns sitting with the fireman and then on the engineer’s side with my dad in the summertime when we were out of school.

“I thought the Goose was too noisy and hurt my ears. Dad had occupational deafness from the roar of the engines and tried to get hearing aids, but it just magnified the roar in his ears so he could not wear them.

“I miss the Jamestown of the ’40s and the sound of the steam train.”

And yes, Neighbors will run many more notes from others who probably would join a Galloping Goose fan club.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com