A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Golden Spike Tower

North Platte, Nebraska

I kept having people tell me "Oh you just have to go to the Golden Spike Tower" and so as it was along the way on our trip towards home we made the point of finding this tower.

This is the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard - the world's largest train yard.  Here 10,000 railroad cars are handled each day on a yard that stretches out for 8 miles.

There was a nice railroad museum downstairs.  I am not all that into railroad stuff so I just took this one picture for the facts it contained.

I paid the $6 admission fee and as I am not all that fond of elevators I took the stairs up the 8 story tower.  I liked the nice view of the Nebraska flat lands.

See the Little House on the Highway down there?  Sinbad is sleeping inside.

Not a great view of the railroad yard I admit.  

 You see I got to visiting with these three guys and forgot all about picture taking.  They were funny to talk with and really interested in every aspect as to what was going on far down below.

The guy on the left was 83 and retired from the railroad having been a conductor for 30 years.  The other two were visiting from Illinois.  The one on the right was 75 and it was his birthday that day.  He also worked with the railroad but I didn't get in what capacity or for how long.  The guy in the middle, his name was Chuck (I didn't get his age, darn it) and I don't think he was all that into the railroad.  He decided he had had enough and was going back down and I too had had enough so I rode the elevator down with him.  I could see myself in Chuck in his mannerism and appearance plus he was hard of hearing too.  As we rode down the elevator together I thought to myself this is me in the not too distant future.   Yep folks, that'll be me.  I'll need to get some suspenders, but not red. 
Oh my wife will love that!

I had questions and knew these two old railroaders would have the answers.  I wanted to know how long a train of railroad cars can be.  138 cars is the limit for a coal hauling train.  "How long does it take to stop a train?"  If the train is moving 50 mph it will take it a mile and a half to come to a complete stop.  There was a long train of coal moving far down below and I asked where it was coming from and going to.  They said it was coming from Wyoming heading for the power plants back east.  When the train gets to the power plant it just slows down to unload the coal, but never stops moving.  There is a device that flips the entire car over and dumps all the coal out while the train keeps moving on.  Now that I would like to see.  They also informed me that one power plant alone will use an entire trainload of coal each day.  That is mind boggling.  I hope these two weren't just buffaloing this California boy.

I also learned that the engine has 5000 horsepower and carries 500 gallons of fuel.  Also, the diesel engines do not power the engine.  They turn a generator which produces electricity and electrical motors are what propels the engine.  I did not know that.

So in all of this learning, I forgot to take any more pictures of the railroad yard and evidently left my little Lego man standing on the window sill taking a picture for I never saw him again on the remainder of the trip.  He was listed as Missing In Action.

If you are into trains here is a link that has better pictures, a video and a live webcam
of the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, the world's largest railroad yard.


biebkriebels said...

An inspiring post! My grandfather was a train station master and lived above a station. As a child I found that very interesting seeing him operate the rail turnouts manually. About the suspensers, please don't wear them, they are awful, only intended for the senile ones :)

TexWisGirl said...

i like your encounter with these 3 gents! neat to have experts to explain very interesting facts - the coal dumping cars must be something! i hope your little lego man is found by a kid (or someone young at heart) and will be a treasure...

Karen said...

You did it again, John. I miss driving around the Plains because you can see forever. Gotta tell my friend, a rr buff, about this place. He'd love it.

Randy said...

They look like a lively trio.

Rose said...

I hope to remember to check out the link later...don't have time now. I would have enjoyed listening to the guys talk.

EG CameraGirl said...

I'm so sorry your Mr. Lego is now MIA! I hope whoever has him now appreciates him!

138 railroad cars is a LOT of cars! But I have seen trains with nearly 200 so they must not have been hauling coal. We have train that carry flammables though and I'm now wondering if there is an upper limit of cars allowed. Hmmm.