Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trains Galore!

North Platte, Nebraska has a place to see that my father, the train addict, would just love. Open just over a year, the Golden Spike Tower allows an aerial view of Union Pacific's Bailey Railroad Yard.

It costs $5 to go in, although I should have asked for a discount because the elevator wasn't working. Only 8 stories high, I figured I could walk. What they didn't tell me was that each story was 24 steps high.

Whew! Made it! At least there are chairs up here.

Bailey Yard is the largest classification yard in the world; drawing railfans from all over. The massive yard covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles.

Every 24 hours, it handles 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted daily in the yard's eastward and westward yards, nicknamed "hump yards". By pushing cars over a mound, these two hump yards allow four cars a minute to roll gently into any of 114 "bowl" tracks where they become part of trains headed for dozens of destinations.

This shows the eastbound bowl and "hump." You can see cars in the back about to be "humped." They send 1-3 cars at a time into the bowl, and there are 3 brake retarders on the line to slow the cars to 2 mph.

In this Google Earth picture, the East bowl is on the left and the West bowl on the upper right. There is a total of 351 miles of track in the yard. The Golden Spike Tower is at the very bottom, a little to the right.

On the bottom left is the diesel repair facility, which can repair 20 cars per hour, and runs 24 hours per day. They fix 750 locomotives annually.

An aerial view of my rig!


  1. Yikes, You went from Omaha to North Platte without stopping to see the Arch at Kearney? It is awesome.

  2. Yes, it is awesome, but I went to see it last year.

  3. Awesome. There must be a song somewhere that fits this post. I can imagine its mecca for train buffs.

  4. Loved the train audio. Having an uncle and a husband who are train addicts, I have acquired an appreciation for trains. Maybe I won't show Terry this Blog. How long can you stay and watch the trains for your $5?

  5. Wow Diane this was a great place to visit for someone who really loves trains... And that would be us! We go to as many train museums and yards as we can not to mention we take trains tours everywhere we go... Loved this post!


  6. Linda and Terry,
    You can stay all day! So come on out and bring a lunch.


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