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Friday, September 23, 2011

Back from North Platte!

Well I must say this has been one of the best weekends of my life so far!  I went down to North Platte for their Rail-fest.  For those of you who don't know, Rail-fest in North Platte is held every year to celebrate their railroad history.  Things to do during the festival include:

  • Bus tours of the Bailey Yard the largest rail yard in the world.
  • Tours of the Golden Spike Tower.  An observation tower to view the rail yard
  • Tours of the large engine facilities at North Platte.
  •  An art show that is all about heritage
  • Displays of the Challenger Locomotive and the EMD DDA40X diesel-electric locomotive, the largest and strongest diesel ever produced.
  • A train show featuring local clubs.
  • Entertainment from live performers.
  • and much more...
As you can see there was a lot to do, so I just stuck to the train related stuff.

So here is my weekend explained through pictures:

 When we first arrived, I caught my first glimpse of the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Heritage Diesel.  the number 2010 signifies the centennial year for the BSA which was created in 1910.

Also on display was a mountain engine that would have been used as a pusher when going up steep grades.

Not my best photo, but most can tell that this is an old Kansas City Southern Locomotive.

The following photos were taken during our tour of the Bailey Yard.  the yard is 8 miles long, and has at least 315 miles of track.  Within the yard are East and West staging, East and West hump yards, RIP tracks, three main lines Westbound, two Eastbound, engine repair facilities, car repair facilities, and refueling?sanding facilities for East and West bound train engines.

Out side of the shop, is a duct and conveyor leading to a waiting car.  that gray stuff is the metal shavings from parts being milled/repaired. 

 Also on display at the yard are the completed heritage diesels.  In the photo you can make out the Rio Grande 1989 and Western Pacific 1983 locomotives.  The number for the units represent the year  UP bought our that railroad.
 Also on display was the newest Chicago & North Western 1995. the CNW was one of the last to merge with UP.
Here is the Missouri Pacific 1982 diesel.  And below is of course the Katy or the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad number 1988

And don't forget the Western Pacific (already mentioned).
 Here are the engine repair facilities.  The photo below is looking at the pit workers use to check the insides of the locomotive.

Here is what the diesel engine looks like.  contrary to what some think, the diesel engine does not directly move the locomotive, but turns an electric generator which make the power for the six on board electric motors.  This does several things for the locomotive: 
  • It makes for better fuel efficiency
  • the loco can go just as fast backwards as forwards (so that's how they do it!)
  • and the train is then powered by six engines per unit rather than one. 

Here is the derailment management tower number 1.

here we have a wheel defect detection building where cars role through the building and are inspected by computers, X-rays, and ultra-sound to determine defects in the wheels.
Next is the engine fueling facility for westbound trains.  Below is the main building that deals with derailments. Our guest speaker was the head of this building.

His own name for his office (the guest speaker's) is area 51.  No, its not secretive, he openly explained what goes on in there and the only reason it is named that is because that was the year that he became employed by the UP.
One of the few remaining operational cabooses in the country, UP401 lives out its years shuttling workers to trains as well as nearby towns.
After the tour, We decided to look at the engine displays and of course, what caught my eye was a UP Challenger locomotive!  There are only two remaining in the world, the other is in Cheyenne, WY.  I'll get that one another day.
The challenger had a similar wheel arrangement as the Big Boy, which was slightly larger.  The challenger had a 4-6-6-4 wheel arrangement, the Big Boy, 4-8-8-4.  And at 112ft long, the Challenger was the second largest locomotive of all time!

Behind the Challenger was a trio of cars.  the first was a hollowed out coach.  In it were displays such as this 5 inch gauge engine.
Also there was a display of many of the tools that would have been used then.
After that was an RPO car or Railroad Post Office car.  these things cut mail time drasticaly and died out only a few decades ago with the rise of commercial air travel and the highways.

As you can tell, this car got around!
And finally, was a caboose.  It's not everyday that these cars are open to the public eye inside so I got a couple photos of the interior.
Revolutionary heating system!

Next was the DDA40X Diesel locomotive.  It was the largest diesel locomotive ever produced.  EMD created this monster mainly to test out multiple engine that work under on hood.  This would be the predecessor to engine consisting, only it had one locomotive.  This engine, like the Challenger next to it, would soon be obsolete with better technology.

After looking at the challenger, there was a depot that was its own little museum.  Inside were a couple displays.  One was a replica of the North Platte Depot that was home to the general store that supplied meals and other goods to soldiers at little to no cost during the years of WWII.
Also, was a display of a roundhouse that aloud people to see how a turntable worked and what went on inside the engine stalls.

It was only after I walked out of the depot that I discovered that it was the original Hershey Depot.  which is a town nearby.
That concluded the days rail- watching.  In part II I'll go over the train show and the Golden Spike tower. Plus there are some photos of trains in the Nebraska country side rolling to their destinations from both the UP and BNSF.

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