Heading west through Nebraska, beyond Chimney Rock on the Oregon Trail we came to the town of North Platte. A place that is home to the largest rail yard in the world, Bailey Yard.
The name comes from a former President of Union Pacific Edd Bailey.
The history of the rail yard starts back in 1866 for the first train to be received. An engineer named Grenville Dodge chose the location as it was near access to water. The town here then was called, Hell On Wheels,
The staff here are more than willing to pass on a wealth of knowledge. I came to learn more than I thought I would. Buffalo Bill himself homed here with his Wild West show so he could get around the whole country from one point easily.
During WW2 over six million soldiers passed through for a 10 minute stop when going and coming from the war, the staff at canteen worked hard on giving refreshments and baked meals to all of them.
Size and Numbers
Now the Bailey Yard is actually owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and is a huge 2800 acres approximately in size. To put that into perspective it is 8 miles long and 2 miles wide!
The sorting and repair of all the trains covering North America is done here and the numbers can be staggering.
On average around 140 trains with 14,000 train cars pass through daily. Of these cars 3000 are sorted, every day.
More than 8000 locomotives are fuelled and serviced per month plus 750 that are repaired. 10,000 wheels are repaired every year.
There is a visitor centre on site of course that also has the attraction of the Golden Spike Tower.
From up in the tower you gain a 360 view all around and over the rail yard. A way to see the sheer size but also with memorabilia and historical references to view within.
What I found that it was something totally different to see and learn from. A big piece of American history actually.
If you think that this place is just for train buffs then you may be pleasantly surprised like me, that it is interesting for all. A unique stop off in Nebraska on the Oregon Trail.