December 25, 1941

North Platte Canteen Opens

One of the most visible contributions to the war effort associated with Union Pacific was its maintenance of servicemen's canteens and USOs at stops like the North Platte depot. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the canteen operated every day for 51 consecutive months, serving as many as 10,000 servicemen and women each day. Soldiers passing through were greeted with free sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cigarettes and friendly smiles. In December 1943, the North Platte Canteen was awarded the War Department’s Meritorious Wartime Service Award.

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Among the snacks distributed were homemade popcorn balls, some containing slips of paper with the names and addresses of young women who had agreed to be a soldier’s pen pal. North Platte’s “Popcorn Ball Marriages” became a lasting legacy of the town’s commitment to America’s soldiers.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.