Golden Spike Tower North Platte Reviews
Viewing the biggest classification yard in the US May 14, 2010
Located at the southern edge of the world’s largest freight classification yard is this eight story tower allows people to look over the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard. The huge yard cover 2,850 acres and includes Union Pacific’s largest repair facility. This yard handles 150 trains every day and that means about 15,000 railroad cars. Nearly 75% of the traffic through the yard is made up of what are called unit trains, all coal, or all auto transports, or all grain, or refrigerated or some other item. Those trains pass directly through the yard on main lines which run right through the middle of the yard, without being slowed or sorted. The classification bowls as they are called, are located on both the eastbound and westbound traffic and contain 114 tracks and thousands of cars.
The tower has eight stories but you only get to see the main floor, the seventh floor and the eighth floors. The main floor is where you can purchase you ticket to go up the tower, and also has a gift shop. There are also some very nice photos and a map of the yard.
The seventh floor is open to the yard with the overhang of the above floor as a nice cover. The open area covers fully half of the tower so that you have a view all the way from west to east ends and it plenty wide to handle many visitors.
The highest, eighth floor is much like the seventh floor but is glassed in for comfort. There are even chairs to sit and relax and listen to volunteers who come nearly on a daily basis to tell interesting stories and explain what you are seeing. They also answered any questions you may have. The day we were there the volunteer had spent more than 25 years as an engineer either in the yard or driving locomotives along the routes in the area bringing trains into and out of the yard. He was very knowledgeable and easy to listen to. One of the things he told us was that more than 14 million gallons of diesel fuel was used here monthly. Another was that more than 10,000 wheels were replaced annually.
Another recent addition was an x-ray facility that east end of the yard that checked the wheels of coal trains “on the fly” to detect cracks.
Admission: Adults $7, Seniors $6, and kids $5
Part of the Spring Roadtrip 2010 travel blog
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