Union Pacific Railroad Bailey Yard - North Platte, Nebraska - Railroad Classification Yard

Union Pacific Railroad Bailey Yard is located in North Platte, Nebraska and is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. It is probably best viewed from the Golden Spike Tower in North Homestead Road, which is an observation platform open year round except Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. From the start of October to the end of April the Tower opens from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 5pm on Sunday, whilst the rest of the year it opens 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 7pm on Sunday.

The yard was named after former Union Pacific President Edd H. Bailey and covers a massive area of 2,850 acres reaching a total length of eight miles. The yard handles over 10,000 railroad cars every day of which, 3,000 are sorted daily in the eastward and westward yards known as hump yards. There is also a locomotive fueling and servicing center dealing with more than 8,500 locomotives per month, a locomotive repair shop that repairs up to 750 locomotives annually and a car repair facility that deals with nearly 50 cars per day.

There are actually two viewing platforms at the Golden Spike Tower accessible by elevator or stairs including an enclosed one on the 8th floor, which is 100 feet above the ground and offers a 360 degree view. The 7th floor platform is open to the elements allowing visitors the chance to hear the sounds of the railroad below them. At the main entrance to the tower is a single story depot-style building housing the Visitor Center, which features Union Pacific Railroad and Nebraskan historical and educational displays as well as a gift shop with items produced by local artists.

The Golden Spike Tower is open to visitors for a small admission fee but there are opportunities to observe the yard from other points nearby. The Birdwood Crossing or the Buffalo Bill overpass enable people to watch the diesel engines, box cars and other activity at the yard, 24 hours a day. It is a busy yard employing over 2,600 people and is described by Union Pacific as an "economic barometer of America.''

Previous visitors to Bailey Yard and the Golden Spike Tower have recommended getting directions from the North Platte visitor guide. Whilst there are some coin operated distance viewers available on the viewing platforms, taking a pair of binoculars or long distance lens camera would be useful. It is a good place for train buffs to visit and visits are generally self guided tours, but tour guides for groups can be made available upon request.

Several hotels are located in the city including Comfort Inn, Super 8 North Platte and Holliday Inn Express. A number of restaurant and bars are in the area too such as Applebee's at Platte Oasis Parkway and Canteen Bar & Lounge in S Jeffers Street. Another attraction visitors might like to see in North Platte is the Lake Maloney State Recreation Area situated at East State Road Farm, which is a popular area for boating, fishing, picnics and golf.

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