Thursday, August 1, 2013

North Platte, NE 7/26/13 - 7/27/13

We thought we were in North Platte, Nebraska for 2 days of rest and to catch up on laundry, little did we know when we arrived that we were staying in the locations of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout Rest Ranch and also the location of the world's largest train yard in the world, the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard.
Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout Rest Ranch was interesting for many reasons.  From 1868 until 1872, Cody was employed as a scout by the United State Army, thus the name Scout's Rest Ranch.  We toured his mansion, his huge barn and the acres of land that he had.  We learned of Buffalo Bill from his childhood through his death.  There were so many old videos to view which were incredibly interesting, including many of his actual wild west shows.  Most of the animals from his Wild West show were stored within his ranch barn.

Buffalo Bill Cody held his first rodeo in North Platte on July 4, 1882, as the town had no 4th of July celebration.  From this his Buffalo Bill's Wild West got its start in North Platte in 1882 as the Old Glory Blowout. 

Buffalo Bill was friend of many including Sitting Bull and Annie Oakley.  Sitting Bull toured with the Wild West show during the season of 1885.  When Sitting Bull left the show, Buffalo Bill gave him a white horse named Gray Ghost.  The horse had been trained to perform tricks at the sound of gunshots.  During an attempted arrest of Sitting Bull, Dec 18 1890, Sitting Bull was killed.  When gunshots broke out, Gray Ghost picked up his cue and began performing.  While bullets flew, the horse sat down and raised one foot.  The Indian police were terrified, thinking that Sitting Bull had entered the horse.  Lots of neat memorabilia was on the grounds.
From there we headed to the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard. Not sure why this never entered our radar before, but this was an incredibly interesting place.  With all the rail traffic across the US, I guess we never thought about the logistics before.  Well, the logistics happen here, in corn and soy growing Nebraska!  This yard sorts, services and repairs locomotives and cars headed all across North America. This rail yard is the largest in the world (8 miles X 2 miles).  They not only service all the locomotives coming in but they build the trains going east and west across the entire US with great precision.  They have precision 'hump' yards.  These hump yards push train cars, that are organized by town in to long segments.  The engines push these cars into segments that are then connected (by gravity) and sent to build long rail cars (be it east or west).  The various 'segments' can then be dropped at various yards across the country.  It was an incredible thing to watch.  Not impressed yet?

The yard totals 315 miles of track, 985 switches, 766 turnouts. 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.  It's like a major airline hub on steroids! It all makes sense, just one of those things most (or at least ourselves) never pondered about.  

Buffalo Bill Cody's Mansion in North Platte, NE
 Buffalo Bill Cody , Scout's Ranch Barn
Inside  the Mansion
Sitting Bull's Grey Horse
Bill Cody with wife
Buffalo Bill Cody Original Posters
Buffalo Bill Cody Original Posters
Baily Yard Repair Facility
Baily Yard including hump facility

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of people forget that trains are still a very large part of our nation's day-to-day transportation of goods. It's pretty awesome to see such a vast train yard, though.