Apr 6, 2012
“More trains than you can keep track of!”
That’s the slogan at the Golden Spike Tower & Visitor Center in North Platte, Nebraska, where I am blessed to have an exciting part-time job since I became an empty nester. Each day, I have the opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world to our great community. In May, I greeted our 100,000th visitor who was from Reichenau, Germany. I have found that, if I talk long enough with our visitors, we often share a commonality.
The eight-story Golden Spike Tower gives a panoramic view of Bailey Yard, the largest railroad classification yard in the world. If the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers were to play here, they’d have enough room for 2,800 football fields! The massive yard covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles, well beyond the borders of our community of 25,000 citizens. Put end-to-end, Bailey Yard’s 315 miles of track would reach from North Platte in western Nebraska east past Omaha on the Iowa border. Every 24 hours, Bailey Yard handles 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted daily in the yard’s eastward and westward yards, nicknamed “hump” yards. Using a hill cresting 34 feet for eastbound trains and 20.1 feet for those heading west, these two hump yards allow four cars per minute to roll gently into any of 114 “bowl” tracks where they become part of trains headed for their destinations.
North Platte is also the home of North America’s first Rodeo & Buffalo Bill’s Scout’s Rest Ranch. In addition, our community housed the North Platte Canteen for 52 consecutive months during WWII, where six million servicemen and women were greeted by volunteers who prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade goodies during their 10-minute stops. I just bet that as baby boomers, some of our parents might have made that unforgettable stop in North Platte Nebraska.
What’s in your area? There just might be a second career (or a part-time second career) waiting for you.