The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the historic Galloping Goose No. 5 railroad car based in Dolores.
All excursions have been canceled for 2020, said Joe Becker, president of the Galloping Goose Historical Society Board of Directors.
This year looked promising: Goose passenger trips were being booked on regional railroads, a Goose reunion was scheduled, a train station was spruced up, and a renewed effort was launched to boost tourism.
“Then the pandemic had its way,” Becker said. “Our board has decided to hunker down and regroup to try to survive 2020.”
The Goose was scheduled to run on narrow-gauge railroad lines in Durango in March and May, and in Chama, New Mexico, in July. The Chama event included a Goose reunion, with several of the remaining “Geese” rail cars expected to participate. Both rail lines have suspended operations.
Becker said reducing passengers on the Galloping Goose to accommodate social distancing was not financially feasible.
Also, the Galloping Goose Historical Museum and gift shop has closed to visitors except by appointment. The part-time museum manager has been furloughed, and gift shop sales are expected to plummet.
The museum is holding a sale offering 19% off storewide at www.gallopinggoose5.org/gift-shop. Use discount code Support-the-goose at checkout.
Visitors may stop by the museum with 24 hours’ notice at 882-7082 or by email or social media. Museum officials will consider reopening later in the summer. Next year will be a challenge for the organization as cash reserves will be depleted, Becker said. During normal years, ticket sales for Goose excursions and gift shop purchases cover expenses.
“We will be dependent on fundraising and our endowment fund to try and see us through,” Becker said.
For updates, check the Galloping Goose Facebook page.
Volunteers will continue to work on Galloping Goose projects. Projects include new interpretive materials and exhibits for the museum, and freight car restoration. The inspection pit in front of the museum is also being renovated.
In May, the Galloping Goose Historical Society received a gondola from the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. Gondola 1646 was built in 1903 and served the railroad for almost 65 years. The hope is to restore the unit as part of a new display at the museum. The railroad group has collected two gondolas and a box car and needs volunteers to help restore them.
Local railroads are planning to reopen.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad based in Chama plans to open June 13. All passengers will be required to wear face masks.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gage Railroad has suspended operations through June 22. The railroad is working with local regulatory agencies to begin train operations soon.