Locomotive shop, at left, and service track at night
Positioned on the seventh floor of the Golden Spike Tower, a webcam now provides a 24/7 live view of action at the world’s largest railroad classification yard. “More trains than you can keep track of" is the motto of North Platte’s Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, and it's a truth that is abundantly clear when viewing the webcam overlooking Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard.
Since the webcam was linked on a page of the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau website -- www.visitnorthplatte.com -- the page has become one of the 10 most viewed pages on the visitor's bureau site. To see it, click HERE.
An average of 139 trains a day with 14,000 rail cars move through Bailey Yard a day. The east and westbound humps will rearrange 3,000 cars per day. The diesel shop may repair as many as 25 locomotives a day while the track where locomotives are fueled, lubricated and serviced could see hundreds of locomotives move through, Union Pacific says.
Double stacked containers run through the yard as well as unit trains that carry coal.
“There are hundreds of railroad webcams across the United States,” said Lisa Burke, the executive director of North Platte Lincoln County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, “from the Folkston Funnel to the Rochelle Diamond to California’s Tehachapi Pass. The webcam overlooking Bailey Yard by far shows more railroad action than all of the others.”
The camera slowly pans from the diesel locomotive shop past the service tracks and the "east hump," where trains are assembled. The camera then looks over the main line to the west hump and back again. Because it shows views of all facets of the busy rail yard, there is nearly always movement on camera.
The camera was made possible by a grant from the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation in North Platte, which is dedicated to serving charitable people and non-profit causes, as well as by funding from the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.
Burke predicts the live webcam views will whet the appetite of rail fans and they will want to come to North Platte to see the action in person.
“When you see a picture (of this scale), you only want to visit it all the more to see it for yourself," she said.