Golden Spike Tower, Nebraska, 5/22-23
We dashed through rainy Wyoming, dodging storms, and 366 miles later, we stopped in Laramie. Tired, and with a thunderstorm overhead, we pulled into a Wal-mart parking lot and quit. All we wanted was to be off the road. The only other gig in town was a KOA on top of the freeway, no thanks. The Wal-mart was a mile away from the freeway and gave us a quiet place (honest!) to overnight, along with two other big rigs. Hoy -- chilly the next morning at 36 degrees! We pulled up the jacks and took off for Nebraska, straight up a mountain, with a summit of over 8,500' -- and boy, were we glad to hit the downhill! Hello, flatland!
Our aim for the night was a Harvest Host location, called Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska. Give a look at their website and even their live webcam. Never, ever did we imagine such a place existed. Union Pacific's rail yard (called Bailey Yard after a former Union Pacific president), is the world's longest train yard. I'll give you two sentences off their webpage: "Covering a massive 2,850 acres, each day Bailey Yard manages 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted to make sure the cargo reaches its final destination." It reaches an unbelievable total length of eight miles!
I took this picture as approached the Golden Spike Tower, crossing over a section of the train yard.
The tower gives you a bird's-eye view of the yard, at least as far as a person can see. Above is a view toward the west "hump." This yard is the only one in the world that has two "humps." Everywhere is train movement (and noise, of course). The seventh floor is open for observation "to experience the sights and sounds" of the yard, and the eighth floor is for enclosed viewing.
Dining car dinnerware display on the eighth floor.
Extraordinary! If you like trains or are interested in seeing all the train goings-on, a visit to Golden Spike Center is a must. Most of the movement here is computerized ... that's probably the only way to manage the volume of train traffic at such a ginormous yard. It's mind-boggling to consider how many rail cars have to be sorted and steered onto the correct rail. Wow.
Where East meets West.
Tergel and Smartie parked, sans hookups, at the edge of the lot in view of the tower and railyard. The yard functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- yes, it was noisy, but for sleeping I used earplugs and slept well. Jimmy can sleep standing up with a jet flying 100 feet above him (no fair!), so he didn't hear a thing. The zoomed-in view above is from the seventh floor of the tower.
And on the other side was a cornfield, with teeny-tiny corn plants emerging.
The next morning this antique car showed up in the parking lot, with all its nutty paraphernalia (not Jimmy, haha). If you enlarge the photo, you'll see what I mean!
On the road again and the sun was shining! Above, the muddy Platte River, North and South forks, was at flood stage and over its "banks" in low areas. It appeared to be in a hurry to join the wide Missouri, 'cause it was moving fast. Hallelujah, no rain this morning as we meander our way toward eastern Nebraska.