Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

2016 Worldcon Road Trip Day 4: Cheyenne WY to North Platte NE

Today's planned journey was only about 250 miles, but we seriously took our time doing it, because there was so much to see. When we checked in to the Cheyenne Holiday Inn Express last night, I told the front desk agent that we'd be driving to North Platte, Nebraska today and he said, "Well, you'll be very bored." Boy, was he wrong.

As with the other entries in this series, click through to Flickr to see more photos. I hope some of you are doing so. I've been cataloging and tagging them all.

Cheyenne Depot

First stop today was the Wyoming Transportation Museum, located in the former Cheyenne station of the Union Pacific Railroad. The picture here shows a bunch of classic cars because there was an event happening around the museum grounds including a "show and shine."

Wyoming Women Statue

I was very taken with this statue in front of the building. Wyoming was the first US state to give women the right to vote.

Wyoming Transportation Museum

The museum, not surprisingly, focuses on the role of the Union Pacific building the first transcontinental railroad; however, it does not pretend that other railroads did not exist, and it gives due credit to the Central Pacific that built the western half of the line.

Observation Lounge at Cheyenne Station

An observation lounge on the upper floor gives a good view of the tracks and of the Cheyenne Shops, where Union Pacific's "Steam Team" maintains and repairs their steam fleet and the other special locomotives and equipment used by Union Pacific. UP currently has two mainline steam locomotives in service, and is working on restoring a third, a "Big Boy." (More about the "Big Boy" locomotives later.)

UC&N Model Railroad

Most of the upper floor of the museum is given over to an enormous model train layout that is legendary in the field: the The Union Central and Northern (UC&N) Model Railroad layout created by Harry S. Brunk, based on the narrow gauge Clear Creek (Colorado) Lines of the Colorado and Southern Railway. Originally built in a mobile home owned by Brunk, it was donated to the museum and carefully cut out of the trailer and installed in the museum in an impressive operation of its own documented at the museum.

UC&N Model Railroad

The layout includes a section based on the Georgetown Loop.

Downtown Cheyenne

Leaving the museum, as we were walking back to the minivan I took this shot of downtown Cheyenne looking toward the Wyoming State Capitol building, an imposing-looking dome even with the rest of the building surrounded by scaffolding during renovations.

We had budgeted two hours for the museum. It wasn't enough. At least three would have been better. As it was, I felt I was rushing, because I like to read displays and look at things.

In the gift shop, Lisa bought me a big thick two-volume history of the Union Pacific railroad as a birthday present. (My birthday is August 27.) We then set off to leave Cheyenne and pick up a couple of "targets of opportunity" on the way out of town.

Cheyenne's Big Boy

In a park in Cheyenne sits one of the remaining "Big Boy" locomotives. I asked Lisa (and travelswithkuma) to stand in this photo so people could get an idea of just how enormous this locomotive is. This is not the locomotive being restored by Union Pacific: that is number 4014, pulled out of the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds and towed to Cheyenne for the massive restoration project.

Wyoming's Merci Train

On display outside of Cheyenne's American Legion post is the Wyoming Merci Train car. This is one of the 49 boxcars sent by France to the USA after World War I as a thank you present for American participation in the Great War. There was one car for each state plus one for Washington DC. I've previously posted photos of Nevada's Merci Train car, which was rescued and restored by and is now on display at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

After refueling (wow, gasoline for less than $2/gallon!) on the outskirts of Cheyenne, we got onto I-80 and sped east toward Nebraska. We pulled off at the Welcome Center at Kimball, collected maps, and got away from the freeway, as it was our plan to try and stay on US-30 and follow the railroad today.

More Trains Across Nebraska

Near Potter NE we passed the first of many UP trains that we would see today.

Potter Railroad Museum

Potter has a small railroad museum and a caboose on display, but the museum is not open on Sunday so we did not get to see inside the former small-town depot.

Sydney Yard

In Sydney, we had a look at the yard there before heading back over to the Interstate, that being the only place we could find any places to eat that were open. We then returned to US-30.

Elevator Switcher

Not everything railroad-related was Union Pacific. Here in Chappell NE, a locomotive lettered for Farmers Elevator Company is used to switch the grain elevators. Grain is, of course, one of the major products shipped by rail from this area, and many grain elevators dot the right of way.

While US-30 heads straight east, the railroad jogs down into the northeast corner of Colorado, and we elected to follow it.

Colorado Dogleg

This is US-385 in Nebraska. Immediately ahead of us is Colorado, although you wouldn't know it by the scenery.

Julesburg Depot

The Julesburg Depot Museum is another one we won't be able to visit due to it being closed while we were there.

Julesburg Depot

At least we got to look at the outside.

Minature Train

In the park next to the depot is this non-functional miniature train.

Park Bunny

While I was walking down the side of the miniature train trying to set up a good shot, Lisa called me back. I had nearly stepped on this rabbit that was chowing down on the grass in the park. The bunny hopped over to the other side of the train. It didn't seem to spook too badly by us, merely loping off from the noisy people interfering with its supper.

Deer Crossing

We continued along the railroad on US-138 (an odd case of an "orphaned" US highway because there hasn't been a US-38 since 1931) back up to Nebraska and rejoined US-30 eastward. Approaching Brule, Lisa came to a complete halt as several deer crossed the road ahead of us. They initially stopped and looked at us. By the time I could get the camera (which was recharging) ready, they had moved off into the field, and as we passed, they were bouncing away from the road. We saw another deer later.

Thanks to our circuitous route and moving into the Central Time Zone after Paxton, we did not get to the Holiday Inn Express in North Platte until nearly 10 PM local time. Tomorrow we backtrack slightly to go over to the Golden Spike Tower overlooking UP's Bailey Yard. Lisa has been studying maps of the yard to get an idea of what we'll be looking at tomorrow.
Tags: colorado, nebraska, trains, travel, wyoming

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