North Platte, Neb., was, from creation, a “Train Town,” first platted by Union Pacific Railroad’s Chief Engineer, Grenville Dodge. The town received its first train in 1866, followed by the construction of major shop facilities and winter quarters for the crews. In 1867, Union Pacific began conducting main line operations through the town. William “Buffalo Bill" Cody located Scouts Rest Ranch at North Platte because it allowed him to move his Wild West Show by train or by wagon across the United States relatively quickly.
During World War II, the North Platte Canteen, supported by thousands of area citizens, served baked goods and refreshments to more than six million service members during a 10-minute stop as they were convoyed across the United States.
Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard, located in North Platte, is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. Named in honor of former Union Pacific President Edd H. Bailey, the massive yard covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles. The yard is located in the midst of key east-west and north-south corridors, making it a critical component of Union Pacific’s rail network. The non-profit Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, an eight-story building overlooking the expansive railroad staging area, is open to the public year-round and sees more than 30,000 train enthusiasts and visitors each year.