Monday, May 31, 2010

I Saved the Best for Last (not really, they're all good)

North Platte is also home to a world-class attraction, the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center overlooking Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, the worlds largest railroad yard.

You can tell it is a world class attraction by the map located just inside the front door. It has only been up a short time, but already there are stickers from visitors from around the world.
The view from the top of the tower is spectacular. After today's foggy beginning (see about four posts ago!), a haze still remains in the air, but on a clear day, you can easily see Sutherland to the west, a distance of about 25 miles. And did I mention the trains?
Trains, trains and more trains! No matter where you look, there is constant movement.
Coal trains, "manifest" trains, trains being sorted into other trains, locomotives being hooked up to trains or moving to the repair shop, always more trains.
What appears to be just a maze of railroad cars is actually a highly efficient, extremely busy classification yard. This picture was taken just minutes after the first one in the series, and there is already more and different locomotives and rail cars in the picture.
Even though it is our last stop of the day, our group is still avidly drinking in all of the unique attractions North Platte has to offer.
The Golden Spike Tower doesn't just leave you up here all alone to make sense of what you're looking at. They have a full time staff of volunteers who are retired railroaders to share their love of the railroad and the intricacies of the operation with you.
When you visit, don't overlook the open-air viewing deck on the seventh floor. Even though it is only one floor below the enclosed deck on the eighth floor, the feeling is totally different. The breeze (ok, usually the wind, although today we got lucky), the deep rumble of the locomotive power, the screech of the retarders on the steel wheels, the clang as the cars join together in the bowls - you have to be on the seventh floor to truly experience all of this.
And that concludes your whirlwind tour of North Platte attractions. You really should do it yourself sometime!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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