In North Platte

North Platte is a center point in the US, an ideal location for a rail yard. Bailey yard is the largest one in the world. Trains are going east-west and are sorted and repaired here if needed. There’s 315 miles of tracks in the yard. An average of 125 trains and 12000 cars are handled daily, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. We can see them being pushed on the hump track and one by one going in the bowl in their attributed track to form a new train. The yard also services 9000 and repairs 1200 locomotives per month. I learned that the locomotive isn’t powered by diesel but by electricity, the diesel itself powers the electricity.

North Platte used to be the home of William Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill. His house and ranch are now preserved in the Buffalo Bill ranch State park. We all know his name but we’re never sure why, he was a cowboy, right? Born in 1846 , the man grew up doing different jobs including rider for the Pony Express. He earned his nickname later when he was employed by the railroad company to shoot buffalos (bisons) to feed the construction crew. With Cody, one shot meant one dead bison, and he killed more than 4000 during his contract. So workers were calling him “Buffalo Bill”. After this job he did several others until he started enacting the wild west for spectators with a couple of friends. They were bad actors but urbanites from the Eastern cities liked it. So Cody created his show “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”. With many actors they showed scenes of the west, riding horses with skills, hunting buffalos, fighting with the Indians… it was such a success they even toured in France!

About the American Buffalo (bison), prior to the arrival of the colons there was an estimated 30 to 70 millions roaming the great plains. Indians were hunting them for their skin, their meat and their bones (for tools). Europeans arrived and started killing them at a great rate, for their meat but also exporting their skin to Europe. They reduced the population to the brinks of extinction, an estimated 300. Today the Buffalo is a symbol of the Westward expansion and herds remain in protected areas.

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