Lind: Old train memories come rolling in

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob hears from more readers about the old Galloping Goose branch line trains.

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

“Neighbors” hasn’t carried memories of the old branch line trains, each of which was nicknamed the Galloping Goose, for a long time. So let’s get back aboard.

Neil West, Tucson, Ariz., writes, “My wife, Carol (Wenstrom) West, tells me she recalls riding on the Goose with her brother and their dad, R.A. Wenstrom, to Barlow, N.D., from Carrington, N.D.”

Barlow is 10 miles north of Carrington.

By the way, Neil says his grandson, Patrick McGuire, is head of music at Shanley High School, Fargo.

Wilbur Aiken, Plymouth, Minn., writes that “From the early 1940s until the 1950s, the Great Northern Railroad operated a diesel locomotive that carried freight and passengers in a single cab-over-engine unit between Minot, N.D., and Crosby, N.D. The train was called the Galloping Goose.”


And here’s a note from Merville Haerter, who says he’s been called “ Butch” from birth.

He was born in 1952 in Cooperstown, N.D., was raised there, and now lives in O’Fallon, Ill.

”I remember a single car train in the early ‘60s that stopped in Cooperstown; I believe it also was called the Galloping Goose,” he writes.

“If memory serves me correctly, it ran a round trip daily from Hannaford, N.D., with stops in Shepard, Cooperstown, Jessie, Binford and McHenry (all in North Dakota). It connected area passengers with the Great Northern depot in Hannaford.

“I remember my mother calling it the ‘milk run.’

“It may also have transported eggs and cream. Cooperstown had an egg station and a creamery. I don’t know much about the egg station other than that it was next to Adam’s Chevrolet. Lee’s Creamery churned butter and sold it in three-pound rolls.

“All those buildings, including Hildre Implement, the John Deere dealership, are gone.”

He also notes that at one time, Cooperstown had 11 grain elevators serviced by the Union Pacific Railroad.


“My, things have changed!” he says.

Oh boy, Butch, have they!

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Russia to Dakota

Butch writes that he finds the history of North Dakota “fascinating.”

Then, thinking of the state’s pioneer days, he says he “can’t imagine living in a sod hut and surviving a winter. But that’s just what my great-grandfather did in the late 1800s.”

His great-grandfather was Johann Harter. He and Barbara Nitschke were married in 1882 in Klostitz, Bessarabia, and came to the United States from Beresina, South Russia, in 1888 with two sons: John (born in 1885) and Gottlieb (born in 1887).

They settled in Ashley, N.D., where they lived in that sod hut.

They went on to have four more sons and two daughters.


Gottlieb became Butch’s grandfather.

“The story is,” Butch says, “that he (Gottlieb) added the letter ‘e’ to the Harter name (making it ‘Haerter’), because typewriters didn’t have an umlaut (the ‘ mark), placed over an ‘a’ in his native language.”

As to Butch himself, he attended North Dakota State University from 1970 until 1974, when he was commissioned in the Air Force. He had two assignments at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, in 1984-1989 and in 1994-1997. He retired from the Air Force in 1997 and from Civil Service at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., in 2018.

Goodbye, Goose

And Butch adds this memory concerning the Galloping Goose:

“When the Goose ceased operations through Cooperstown, the Griggs County Sentinel Courier had a large front page picture of the train with the headline, ‘The Goose is Dead.’”

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If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

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