These last few days have literally been like elementary school field trips. And Monday was no exception.
We departed North Platte, Nebraska and headed for the town of Cozad, who claim to fame is that the town sits on the 100th Meridian or 100 degrees west longitude. We arrived at the old Union Pacific Depot which has a small museum inside and has a Union Pacific caboose on display on the south side of the station. And the station sits right on UP’s triple track mainline. A few minutes after we arrived, we were greeted by an eastbound unit coal train, all 135 hopper cars carrying an estimated 18,000 tons of Power River Basin coal from eastern Wyoming.
Our next stop was Omaha, Nebraska and a place that I did not know of but is known to travelers entering the city on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80. The place is Kenefick Park, named after former Union Pacific chairman Paul Kenefick. It is part of Lauritzen Gardens. And what is out there, or should I say, up there, that leaves you wondering how the park builders did this. Forming a point are Union Pacific’s Centennial diesel locomotive 6900 and Big Boy steam locomotive 4023. The park overs great views of Omaha and the Interstate system. Once you climb the 64 steps to the park, gently sloping concrete walkways get you around the park. More information can be found at:
Next, it was a trip across the Missouri River to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Many exhibits about the railroad's history from its creation to the modern technology used o n the railroad today.
Our last stop was the Durham Museum, formally Omaha’s Union Station. The station has been meticulously renovated inside and out. Inside is a grand and high waiting room with the station looking as it was in its heyday. At the height of WWII, more than 40 passenger trains made a stop in Omaha with soldiers heading to and from the war, more than 10,000 passengers a day. At one end is a grand ballroom, beautifully carpeted with a parquet floor for dancing. The ballroom is used for weddings, banquets and the local high schools’ senior proms. Amtrak stops here twice a day with its California Zephyr but at a small station across a large field which contained the former big station’s platform tracks.
O In the basement was a bright yellow caboose and one of Union Pacific's steam locomotives. I cased out the caboose. Took a lot of pictures. My dream place to put my ham audio shack and audio studio. As the song goes, "Dreeeeaaammmm, dream ,dream dream".
At the end of our final “field trip”, we were off to the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha for our farewell dinner. For some of the participants, they’ll head up to their rooms for a full night's sleep and departures from Omaha’s Eppley Field International Airport on Wednesday . For the rest of us, it will be a short night with a wake-up call at 3:45am to catch Amtrak’s California Zephyr. With sleepers Pacific Union and Berlin split by Super Dome #53, we will run behind Amtrak's #6, the California Zephyr as it cruises across Iowa and then into Illinois with an estimated arrival of 2:50pm CDT at Amtrak’s Union Station in Chicago.
I will wrap things up on Wednesday as I head back to Connecticut. Please stay tuned.
I’m Philip J Zocco. On The Road. In Omaha, Nebraska.