Union Pacific Railroad will operate a special heritage passenger train – the Big Red Express – on Saturday from Omaha to North Platte.Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst, most of the athletic coaches as well as top UNL representatives will be on board, including football coach Bo Pelini, baseball coach Darin Erstad and men’s basketball coach Tom Miles.
The train will make whistle-stops in Columbus, Grand Island and Kearney. It will arrive in North Platte at 5:20 p.m. and the delegation will proceed to the Golden Spike Visitors Center. They will depart at 6:45 p.m.
The tour aims to celebrate the historical connection of the railroad, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska communities, according to the announcement from Union Pacific.
"We are proud to support NU by operating our historic Heritage passenger equipment for the Big Red Express from Omaha -- home of our headquarters -- to North Platte -- home of the world's largest classification rail yard,” said Donna Kush, Union Pacific’s vice president for public affairs, northern region.
Besides Pelini, Erstad and Miles, University of Nebraska coaches planning to take part in the Big Red Express tour include Chuck Chmelka (men’s gymnastics); David Harris (cross country); Scott Jacobson (women’s tennis); Dan Kendig (gymnastics); Robin Krapfl (women’s golf); Kerry McDermott (men’s tennis); Pablo Morales (women’s swimming); Gary Pepin (track & field); Rhonda Revelle (softball); Bill Spangler (men’s golf); Bill Straub (bowling); John Walker (women’s soccer) and Connie Yori (women’s basketball).
Other University of Nebraska representatives on the express include: President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Nebraska Foundation Brian Hastings, Dean of the College of Business Administration Donde Plowman, Executive Director of the Nebraska Alumni Association Diane Mendenhall; Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Prem Paul, Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Relations Michelle Waite,Dean of the College of Engineering Tim Wei and Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Ellen Weissinger.
Whistle-stop tours were popular in the 19th century, when long distance travel by passenger train was the norm. At each stop, speeches would be given from the train.
“Historically, a whistle-stop tour brought Presidents to cities where they could communicate directly with the people they served,” said Nebraska’s Associate Athletic Director Paul Meyers. “That’s exactly what we’re doing, meeting people and thanking them for all the support they’ve shown to University of Nebraska Athletics, year after year and decade after decade. We thought it was a great idea to ride Union Pacific’s tradition to help support our own.”
The Big Red Express schedule:
Depart: 8 a.m. Omaha – Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Arrive: 10:05 a.m. Columbus – north side of 26th Ave. crossing. Depart: 11:05 a.m.
Arrive: 12:25 p.m. Grand Island – south side of Oak St. crossing. Depart: 1:25 p.m.
Arrive: 2:20 p.m. Kearney – north side of Central Ave. crossing. Depart: 3:20 p.m.
Arrive: 5:20 p.m. - North Platte – Bailey Yard. Event held in the parking lot of the Gold Spike Tower and Visitor Center, 1249 N Homestead Rd. 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m.