Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nebraska Railway Stations…Plus!

Well, I’m back to my railroad related theme… As we traveled a small portion of east and central Nebraska, we tried to find additional old railway stations along our route…

You win some and you lose some…

During my research I found a note that there was an old railroad depot in the town of Seward Nebraska… No wonder Laurie and I didn’t spot it!  The tracks are long gone and it was converted to a home sometime in the not too recent past.  As per a photo on the interactive maps found at this is Seward’s former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway station.
Note: The site lists the remaining railroad depots in all of the states and it features many photos.  Check it out at

We had better luck in York Nebraska… The former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy depot here is still next to some very active railroad tracks and it was fairly easy to find.  That green tin roof looks good on this nice brick building.  I don’t know when the depot was built but I did find a 1911 postcard online showing this depot.  The postcard was for sale…and it was ‘only’ $60.00! 

The railroad first reached York back in 1877, with the Burlington, Missouri River Railroad being the first to come to town.  Shortly afterwards, The Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad followed suite.  York was founded in 1869 and incorporated in 1875.  The current population is roughly 7,800…

Burlington Northern/Santa Fe is using the York depot as a line office.  The BNSF Railway is the second-largest freight railroad network in North America, second only to the Union Pacific Railroad.  BNSF has three transcontinental routes that provide high-speed links between the western and eastern United States. BNSF trains traveled over 169 million miles in 2010, more than any other North American railroad.

In 2009, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (Omaha NE) bought announced it would acquire the remaining 77.4 percent of BNSF it did not already own for $100 per share in cash and stock.  The deal was valued at $44,000,000,000!

As we drove out of town, I decided to check out the local airport.  It’s not Chicago O’Hare or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, that’s for sure!  Nevertheless, the York Municipal Airport does have a concrete runway that is 5,898 feet long and it handles 10,500 take offs and landings per year.  It always surprises me to learn just how much air traffic local airports around country handle on a regular basis. 

This old jet on static display at the entrance to the airport is what really drew me in… During this little trip we noted at least 3 other local airports with former military aircraft on display.  I believe that this is a Grumman F-9 Cougar, an early carrier-based fighter aircraft for the United States Navy.  This plane first flew in 1951 and the last of the 1,400 that were built was retired in 1974.

This is the former Union Pacific Railroad Depot in Cozad Nebraska.  It is well preserved and it now serves as the Human Services and United Way Center for the community.  I was unable to find the date that this handsome depot was built despite a serious on-line effort.

The town of Cozad was the dream of John J. Cozad from Ohio.  In 1872, when he was traveling through the Platte valley on the Union Pacific Railroad, he saw a sign on the right-of-way bearing the words “100th Meridian.”  This particular location impressed him as being a favorable site for a town.  He purchased 40,000 acres of land from the railroad and organized a campaign to encourage people to move to Cozad.  Fittingly, the first building in town was a railroad boxcar with the name “COZAD” painted on each end.

The Union Pacific company erected a depot at Cozad and Mr. Cozad built a hotel and several other buildings in order to improve the town.  By 1876, the new town boasted a population of five or six hundred, but by the time the colonists were settled, along came the grasshoppers and everything green was destroyed.  The colonists even told stories about the grasshoppers eating the pitchfork, hoe and shovel handles too.  However, Mr. Cozad and some of the settlers persisted and the town today has a population of about 4,000. 

This retired Union Pacific caboose is on display next to the old railroad depot…

John Cozad was both a real estate developer and a gambler.  Whenever he ran short of money, he’d head back east for a bit of gambling.  He’s reputed to have won as much a $50,000 in one card game!  However, he was also known to be haughty and aloof with a violent temper.   One day when Mr. Cozad returned to town from a business trip, he was confronted by a local citizen.  The argument ended with Cozad drawing his gun and shooting the unarmed man. 

Mr. Cozad left town immediately, leaving his wife to sell his property and other assets.  She sewed the money in her skirts and in the coat pockets of her son’s as well.  The family left town. Changing their names, they eventually moved to Atlantic City New Jersey.  Their son Robert changed his name to Robert Henri.  He became a famous artist and teacher of art in New York.  Henri was a leading figure of the “Ashcan School” of American Realism.  To learn more and to check out a couple of his paintings, go to

Cozad is known for one other fact…as proclaimed by this sign over US 30.  In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln threw down a challenge for a railroad to be built to a specific spot on the Nebraska map. He pointed at the 100th Meridian, the current location of Cozad.  The challenge was accepted, and the Union Pacific Railroad was being built with "the workers laying new rails at a rate of one and one-half miles per day."  On October 5, 1866, the railroad reached the 100th Meridian.  

It was determined that there should be "appropriate ceremonies enacted on this ground on October 26, 1866.  The Great Excursion from Wall Street to the 100th Meridian brought 250 notables: railroad and territorial officials, congressman, financiers and newspaper men, including such dignitaries as Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln; Rutherford B. Hayes, future President of the United States; and George M. Pullman, inventor of the Pullman car.  It was the first passenger train to roll in Nebraska Territory and included the car which the year before had borne President Lincoln's body from Washington to Springfield, Illinois."

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I love all of your railroad posts, Dave. I have such a love for old railroad stations --and love it when towns preserve them in special ways. Have you all been to Bristol (VA/TN)??? If not, you need to go there and see that station...

    Wish we still had the old passenger train service in our country --like we did (rather than Amtrak which doesn't go to many places)....

    Thanks for sharing some of Nebraska's train stations... Interesting about the one turned into a home now and also about Cozad, the 100th Meridian, and Abraham Lincoln. Neat story.

  2. The red brick one with the green roof brought back memories of one of the two RR stations in my little town in Arkansas. It has a more modern feel than some of the Victorian ones.

  3. I love these pictures and especially the second pic Look some old station from here, yes we dont have so much now!!