The Galloping Goose Historical Society has some good news and some bad news.
Four new volunteers have been added to the ranks to help support the museum and operate Goose No. 5. But until they are trained to be motormen, there will be fewer trips this year for the unique rail bus.
“It has become too much for the current group of motormen to keep up the schedule from past years,” said volunteer Lew Matis. “We’ve recruited some new blood, but they have to complete the training.”
As a result there will be fewer trips for the Galloping Goose on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gage Railroad and on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, N.M.
Goose rail excursions went from four trips with 15 runs to two trips with eight runs. Matis said.
Training to safely operate, repair, and troubleshoot the 27-passenger rail bus is extensive and takes 2-3 years. Upcoming training session will be June 19 and 20th. A second phase of training has future motorman taking the controls with supervision from experienced engineers during rail trips.
New volunteer Gary Gregory went through the training last year and will again this year.
“It takes some practice,” he said. “I took the controls for a stretch last year in Chama and it went well. You have to watch your RPM’s, and downshift for slopes.”
Each trip has two motorman who switch off to prevent fatigue. The team helps each other on the route, and have to be mechanically inclined if repairs need to be made on the spot.
“Fewer trips mean less revenues for us, but our goal is to train our volunteers to take over operations from us one day. We’re ready to someday retire,” Matis said.
The museum has expanded its hours and is now open Monday through Saturday from 9-5.
This year, the Goose will participate in Railfest in Durango on Aug. 14-17. It will run on the Cumbres-Toltec line Oct. 2-5. Go to www.gallopinggoose5.com for ticket information or call 882-7082.