Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5, 2009 North Platte, NE UP Rail Yard

WOW!!! We have never seen anything like this before. The Union Pacific Baily Yard is the world's largest railroad classification yard. To get here, we programed the address of the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center at the Union Pacific Bailey Railroad Yard on the GPS. The GPS gives us some real adventures, sometimes. This time it took us to a muddy road that was entered by passing a Private Property sign. This rutted, muddy road took us toward the tower in the distance but right into a parked train. The road does not cross the tracks here. This road does take us by, guess what - more cows! We then tried a different concept - we drove back to town and followed the signs to the tower. Piece of cake. The visitor center is made to look like an old railroad train station. Inside, we were met by volunteers who explained the area to us and sent us up to the eighth level, the upper observation center. There is glass all around and one can get a 360 degree view of the area, including the yard. We looked down and saw our truck in the parking lot. It seems like this trip we are climbing high and photographing our truck from above - from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and here. This yard handles over 15,000 railroad cars a day, seven days a week. The yard covers 2,850 acres which is enough room to enclose 2,800 football fields. There are 18 receiving and 16 departure tracks. Trains come here and their cars are sorted and placed on other trains to continue on to their destination. The huge repair facility was space for three football fields. We saw that rail cars are pushed to the top of a hill and then gravity takes them downhill while a master director orchestrates which train the car(s) attach themselves to by computer using a bar code on each car. The entire operation is beyond words that could be used here to describe what actually occurs here. We then went into town and discovered a great little diner in the heart of North Platte's downtown area. The Main-S-Treet Cafe is run by the Mains family on N. Dewey Street and is only open for breakfast and lunch. The food is all hand prepared and fresh vegetables, meats and breads are used. The service was great and Mr. Mains kept asking us if we had enough to eat and if we liked it. We will definitely return if we ever come through here again. We also know that we could never tow our Monty here through the one-way, narrow streets in this area.

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