Train whistles, fashion show mark Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary

Members of Girl Scouts Troop 4165 display every uniform used during the 100-year existence of the organization during a centennial event Saturday at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum. Enlarge photo

LUCAS HESS/ Durango Herald

Members of Girl Scouts Troop 4165 display every uniform used during the 100-year existence of the organization during a centennial event Saturday at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum.

A local troop of Girl Scouts flooded the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot Saturday afternoon, celebrating 100 years of courage, confidence and character – not to mention cookies.

In honor of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, 87 girls from Southwest Colorado rode the D&SNGR train from Durango to Cascade Canyon and back, accompanied by their troop leaders.

They were greeted by a crowd of parents, alumni and dressed-up members of the La Plata County Historical Society, singing songs and snapping photos as the Scouts waved from the train windows.

While the group celebrated with train rides over the weekend, the true anniversary is Monday.

One hundred years ago that day, Juliette Gordon Low called girls in her neighborhood in Savannah, Ga., assembling the first group of 18 Girl Scouts, said Scout trainer Shelly Hartney, who was decked out in a Girl Scout jumpsuit from 1968 along with bright green hair and even glittery green eyebrows for the occasion.

Where there are Girl Scouts, there usually are cookies, and while the organization may be 100 years old, Thin Mints, Samoas and even the first simple sugar cookies are a bit younger.

The Girl Scouts first started baking cookies in 1917 to support the organization, and by the 1930s, the organization circulated official menus and cookie recipes, Hartney said.

Today, Girl Scout cookie sales represent the largest girl-run business in the world, said Cindi Graves, a Girl Scouts Colorado community relations manager.

The Girl Scouts have been going global since 1925, when the first overseas troop popped up in China, said Carol Rhan, assistant CEO and director of membership services with USA Girl Scouts Overseas.

Now, more than 145 countries are represented in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

“It’s much bigger than your little thing here,” Rhan said. “It’s a world thing.”

At the train depot, a small group of Colorado’s modern Girl Scouts paid tribute to their roots with a fashion show of antique uniforms.

Two of the tiniest girls stuck out in the green sea, modeling early Brownies uniforms, complete with authentic brown caps and dresses.

When the older Girl Scouts’ younger sisters wanted to help, the Brownies were formed and became helpers to the older girls, Graves said.

Other girls modeled vintage Junior Girl Scout and Girl Scout uniforms, and even two of the troop leaders got in on the fun with retro adult uniforms.

Fort Lewis College, which recently celebrated a centennial anniversary of its own, sponsored the day of train rides, fashion shows and sing-alongs. The D&SNGR helped out by offering a special rate for the train ride, and Carver Brewing Co. is selling Girl Scout cookie pancakes this morning to benefit the organization.

While the Girl Scouts have come a long way over the decades, some things haven’t changed much.

“We like to make friends, and we sell cookies,” said 10-year-old Savannah Unger, who’s been a part of the Girl Scouts for five years.

Savannah and her friend, 10-year-old Alexia Schmiesing, laughed as they recalled the train ride. Everybody thought it was going to tip over at the river, they said giggling.

As for what’s kept girls and alumni involved in the Girl Scouts for 100 long years, it’s pretty simple.

“It’s pretty much just fun!” Alexia said.

Eighty-six Girl Scouts participated in a centennial event for the organization Saturday at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum with a train ride, sing-alongs and uniform fashion show. Enlarge photo

LUCAS HESS/Durango Herald

Eighty-six Girl Scouts participated in a centennial event for the organization Saturday at Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum with a train ride, sing-alongs and uniform fashion show.

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