North Platte was first designated as a railroad town by former UP Chief Engineer Grenville Dodge, who chose the location for its readily available water and distance from Grand Island, Neb. The town received its first train in 1866. Dodge then constructed major shop facilities and winter quarters for its crews. In 1867, mainline operations through North Platte began.
William “Buffalo Bill” Cody located Scouts Rest Ranch at North Platte because it enabled him to move his Wild West Show across the United States by train or wagon relatively quickly. During World War II, the North Platte Canteen served baked goods and refreshments to more than 6 million service members during a 10-minute train stop as they were convoyed across the United States. Passenger service was discontinued in 1971, after 105 years.
Eventually, the town became a division point where trains were sorted, railroad crews exchanged, and equipment maintained or repaired. Today, UP’s Bailey Yard is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. Named in honor of former UP President Edd Bailey, the 2,850-acre yard is eight miles long.
North Platte has received an official Train Town USA resolution signed by UP Chairman Jim Young, and North Platte’s historical connection with UP will be featured at www.up150.com.
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