Friday, November 21, 2014

Old Time Railway Display – North Platte NE

Our first stop in North Platte was Penny’s Diner right off of I-80.  Our second stop was right next door to Penny’s…the Fort Cody Trading post with Buffalo Bill standing guard right out front.  

The third attraction that we checked out was the Golden Spike Tower and Northern Pacific Railroad's huge Bailey Yard...the largest rail yard in the world!  Our next North Platte attraction continued the railroad theme...

NOTE: Sorry for the variations in print size below... I can't figure out what's going on or how to correct it and I don't want to have to start over!

This is the sight that greets visitors to the Cody Park Railroad Museum in North Platte!  Wouldn’t it be something if you could see these 2 trains headed on down the tracks in your direction? 

Cody Park is North Platte’s largest park.  It not only features Railroad Museum, but it’s also the home of the Wild West Memorial, lighted sports fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a disc ‘golf’ course and horseshoe pits.  In addition, there are kid’s rides, a concession stand and animals including peacocks, geese and ducks, donkeys, deer, elk, buffalo and llamas.  To learn more, go to

This locomotive is the only Challenger 3900 series steam locomotive on static public display anywhere in the USA.  A total of 105 of these locomotives were built.  One other Challenger, (#3985), is part of UP’s Heritage Collection in Cheyenne Wyoming.  That locomotive is occasionally used for freight hauling, special excursions, etc.  It has also been used to pull the Ringling, Barnum and Bailey Circus train.  

To check out a nice series of photos of Challenger #3985 in action, just go to To view it pulling a circus train, go to

Compare this “control panel” to a modern airplane’s instrument panel…or even your automobile dashboard… The good news is that we don’t have to shovel coal to keep our cars in motion!

The Union Pacific Challengers were articulated 4-6-6-4 steam locomotives built by American Locomotive Company specifically for the Union Pacific Railroad.  Only 105 of these locomotives were built between 1936 and 1943.   The Challengers were nearly 122 feet long and weighed more than one million pounds.  They operated over most of the Union Pacific system, primarily in freight service, but a few were assigned to passenger trains operating through mountain territory to California and Oregon.  These locomotives were capable of speeds of up to 70 mph. 

This is the former Union Pacific Railway station from Hershey Nebraska.  It was built in Hershey in 1892 but it’s been relocated to Cody Park in North Platte as part of the railroad museum.  I found a photo of this station on line in the park with the sign still on the end of the building.  But, for some reason…perhaps it was being refurbished…it wasn't in place when we visited.

Hershey is a village with a population of less than 700 residents that’s located about 10 miles west of North Platte.  It’s most famous resident was Ben Kuroki,  the only Japanese American in the United States Army Air Forces to serve in combat operations in the Pacific theater of World War II.  Ben was born in Gothenburg Nebraska but his family moved to Hershey where they raised their 10 children on their farm.  Ben was Vice President of his senior class in Hershey High School.  I talked about Ben in one of my blog postings about Gothenburg… You can learn more about him if you go to

How’s your imagination?  It’s mid-winter in the early 1890’s and you’re sitting on this bench with your family, trying to keep warm while you’re waiting for the train that will take you to the big city.  It certainly was a different time and place…

As an aside, the only time I've ever sat on a bench like this waiting for a train, (in a depot from the 1800’s), was in my home town of Jackson Michigan.  Amtrak still utilizes that depot.  To view photos of the depot in Jackson, you can go to,_Michigan_(Amtrak_station).  To check out some historical photos of that depot, go to

On the track next to the Challenger steam locomotive is diesel locomotive # 6922, one of the 6900 series diesel locomotives, which were the largest ever made.  This 6,600 horsepower diesel-electric locomotive was one of 47 built by the General Motors Electro-Motive Diesel division in La Grange, Illinois for the Union Pacific Railroad.  These locomotives were nicknamed "Centennial" and "Big Jack".  They use two diesel engines they are the most powerful single-unit diesel locomotive ever built.   These Centennial locomotives are 98 feet long!
Only 1 of these huge locomotives is still in use.  Union Pacific #6936 is owned by Union Pacific Railroad and it’s the sole example of the "Centennial" type that is still in operation.  Therefore, it’s the largest operational diesel-electric locomotive in the world.  That unit is still occasionally used on both excursion trains and in revenue freight service.  To learn more about the 6900 series and to view some additional photos, go to:
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 am truly glad I didn't have to shovel that coal, but I do remember pot belly stoves. Close up you're too hot and a few feet back, you're cold. Thank goodness times I have changed in the way we travel. But it is fun to reminisce on rail travel and also to imagine how the people were dressed and where they might be going. Very information David.

  2. I enjoyed the Challenger info and links. I'm looking forward to the restoration of their Big Boy

  3. I love reading about all of the old trains... When I was 8 (probably told you this story) --my family went to California on the train (Dad got free passes since he worked for the railroad) for my older brother's wedding. We first went to Chicago and then west from there. SO-today I wonder if we went through some of those stations you show in Nebraska????????? I wonder!

    If you two haven't been to the Bristol area, you need to go sometime and check out the old depot there... AND--if you go to Abingdon, check out the Barter Theater... Would be a nice two day trip.


  4. Great railway post, again! Love it all and by now you know I love RR history.