Nestled at the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers, North Platte, Nebraska has always been a railroad town. Or should we say: It was a railroad town before it was North Platte.
Union Pacific’s Grenville Dodge platted the area in 1866 and by 1867 main line operations began in what was at the time called, “Hell on Wheels Town.” He also began a repair facility on the site where Bailey Yard is today.
It wasn’t until 1874 that North Platte officially became a city. It was a rough and tumble community with railroad workers and their tag-a-longs populating the area. North Platte was also the ending point for the Texas cattle drives with cowboys herding longhorn cattle. There were times that there were so many longhorn cattle in North Platte that it was unsafe to cross the street.
Buffalo Bill Cody helped put North Platte on the map. He was a mainstay in North Platte for 30 years with his Scout’s Rest Ranch and Wild West Shows. A showman to be sure, Buffalo Bill was both a scout and buffalo hunter before becoming his era’s equivalent of a true show business star. His home and horse barn are still available for public tours and are well worth a visit.
During World War II, North Platte’s Union Pacific Depot became the site of the North Platte Canteen from 1941 until 1946. The volunteers served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes and other homemade goodies to over 6 million service men and women who traveled through Nebraska by train during the war.
Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is the world’s largest rail yard with activity around the clock, every day of the year. Union Pacific has made it possible for generations of North Platte families to prosper, while the railroad hauls the cargo that touches each of our lives in every way. Everyday coal from Wyoming, imported electronics from overseas, produce from California, and cars from Detroit travel through town. Most of the goods you use every day spends some time on the railroad.
Today North Platte, Nebraska is not only a bustling community with great historical significance, but also a community with an eye on the future. It is with this firm understanding of the hard work and mental fortitude of the past, that the future becomes even brighter.
We look forward to seeing you soon.