Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 7 - Bailey Yard

If you’re not a Railfan, you may want to skip this post.

The second day in North Platte, NE, after scrubbing the bugs from the RV front end, we went off to enjoy the reason for stopping in North Platte in the first place – the Bailey Yard.  Since having toy trains as a kid, I’ve been a railroad fan and since we were traveling up and across the country anyway, I routed us thru North Platte, which also allowed us to include Nebraska as a state we have now stayed in.  

This huge Union Pacific yard is the largest of its kind in the country and consists of two classification yards plus repair and service facilities for locomotives and cars.  They have a visitor’s center and the eight story Golden Spike Tower to make viewing the yard easier for visitors.  These shots are from the tower looking west then east then north after the first shot of the tower.

Here are a couple of excerpts about the yard form Wikipedia - It covers a total expanse of 2,850 acres and is over 8 miles in length and 2 miles wide. The yard has 200 separate tracks totaling 315 miles of track, 985 switches, 766 turnouts, and 17 receiving and 16 departure tracks. Union Pacific employs more than 2,600 people in North Platte, most of whom are responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bailey Yard.  An average of 139 trains and over 14,000 railroad cars pass through Bailey Yard every day, and the yard sorts approximately 3,000 cars daily using the yard’s two humps.

The first shot is a car rolling to the right from the hump then a couple shots of the locomotive repair and service facility.

The yard is controlled three ways -by computers, by a person at a large control panel, and by the train crewman on the ground – control means throwing the switches that determine which way the train or components go.  When a train arrives at the yard, the road locomotives are removed and the yard switchers take over the train.  It is then moved over the hump (a 34’ hill that raises the track), where the cars are uncoupled and roll by gravity down the other side where they are switched onto the track that makes up a train of cars going to the same place and in the right order so the last cars come off at the first drop point.  Each car has a tag similar to a bar code and its final destination is put in the computer when it goes on its initial train, then as it passes by readers along the track, this info is used each time it gets humped until it reaches its destination.

This is a shot south from the tower.

From the Bailey Yard we went over to Cody Park to check out the rail equipment on display and found a Union pacific Challenger steam locomotive and a EMD DDA40X.  The 4-6-6-4 wheel arrangement, Challenger was one of the largest of the steam locomotives being bested by Union Pacific's 4-8-8-4 Big Boy.  The DDA40X is one of a group of 6600 hp locomotives that had two diesel engines and are the most powerful ever made.

The Challenger.

This is the view forward from the Challenger engineers seat - he couldn't see much.

The DDA40X and it's cab.

Even Bev and Pat seemed to enjoy seeing and learning a little of how a RR does it’s job.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


7/30/15 event date


  1. What until Big Daddy Dave sees this. Watch our. He'll hide in your coach on your next trip to see the trains.

  2. Thanks for the amazing tour, very interesting.

  3. Great post, Larry! My husband is a retired RR man so I've heard about all the yards, etc. for 50 years. He knows it as the North Platte Yard. It's huge for sure and is amazing how huge the engines and cars are!

  4. How fun. Jim's Dad worked for the railroad and both of us have always loved trains. Definitely a must stop for us someday.

  5. Larry, Nice post and some great photos showing more detail than I did when we visited North Platte last year. (Yes Sam, we've already visited this rail mecca!) Loved the Challenger, didn't you Larry?! That photo of Bev by the drive wheels certainly provides excellent perspective as to the size of the 'beast'! Enjoy your great western adventure...and travel safely... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  6. Very nice post. We've driven past the area several times now, but never stopped to take a closer look. You've inspired me to make that stop!

  7. "Don't play with the panel." Are all the visitors 6? And the sign making the engine address visitors directly was a nice touch. I'm sure it was a wonderful stopover.

  8. I love trains! It's on my bucket list to take a trip by train. Great photos Larry!

  9. I enjoy trains and seeing this yard was very cool. It's impressive how an industry which has really not changed that much and is conceptually simple can be so efficient at handling the bulk of our nations goods.


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