Railfan Sites in Nebraska
A self-guiding railfan tour
Ken Kuehne is the Editor for Frograil's Nebraska Railfan page.
To submit contributions, corrections and/or additions to the Nebraska page, please e-mail Ken here (after removing spaces and substituting for "at"): zwsplac "at" hotmail . com
Railfan, railfan--where do you see trains in Nebraska?
Mapwork: If you're going to be looking for railfan locations, you'll need an industrial strength map resource. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.
Cities And Sites
(1) With gratitude to Darrel Wendt, who was kind enough to share this information with us.
Ashland is a small town of some 2,500 folks about mid-way between Omaha and Lincoln. Three BNSF lines (from Sioux City, Omaha, and the ex-CB&Q mainline from Chicago) all meet here, and continue on to Lincoln in very heavy volume, double-track splendor.
UP This is a small, agricultural town between Kearny and Grand Island, right next to US 30 (stay away from I-80, you can't watch trains at 80 mph). Here, the Union Pacific's seemingly unending fleet from North Platte splits for Omaha and the east, and Kansas City and the southeast. The best place to watch trains is a little west of Gibbon; there are plenty of off-railroad property possibilities. Make sure you're west of the junction. There are between 72-100 trains a day here, so make sure your shutter finger is in good condition before you get to Gibbon.
From Gibbon, go east on either I-80 or US-30, and then go south on KS-100 (exit from I-80 is Exit 291 for War Axe State Recreation Area). Half a mile south of I-80, there is an excellent broad-side view to be had of the Union Pacific Marysville Subdivision line up from Kansas City as it crosses the river. It's an afternoon shot.
Fishing, etc. is prohibited from the bridge, but the bridge is so wide and traffic so light that it is unlikely that a photographer at this location would be bothered by anyone.
Thanks and a tip of the Frograil hat to Don Woodworth for this contribution.
UP and BNSF This site is on the east edge of town, north of US 30. The BNSF now goes over the UP, but there are so many trains a day here, you'll still get carpal tunnel syndrome from clicking the shutter. In late 2006, Brad Bennetzen pointed out that the train count is about 75 for BNSF, and 90 for Union Pacific. That's a LOT of trains per day.
There is a UP yard just east of the crossing, and 1-3 engines can be found there.
Memorial Park at 3rd Street and North Tilden Street offers a good shady spot to set up lawn chairs and watch the parade on the Union Pacific main line. Good views can be had for eastbounds and westbounds; however, the line is east-west at this spot, so mornings are good lighting for eastbounds, with evenings best for westbounds.
There is plenty of parking and room to hang out in this city park. There is also a play area for kids and a picnic table or two.
Thanks and a tip of the Frograil hat to Kirk Juergens who contributed this location.
BNSF On US 281 before going under tracks in the center of town, stay north of the tracks, and go west 2 blocks to BNSF yard. 1-5 engines. Also, there is a new over/under crossing southeast of town which I've not seen, but I understand it's a good location.
Note: In October of 2006, Brad Bennetzen pointed out that the "over and under around Hastings is along the Union Pacific's Marysville Subdivision."
From I-80, take exit 237 for US-283 and head north. Go over the tracks on an overpass, and turn left onto US-30. At Madison Street (to the north), park south of US-30, in the vicinity of a pedestrian overpass which goes up and over the triple-tracked Union Pacific Gibbon - North Platte main line: "The Overland Route".
There's a little parking lot on the northeast side of the pedestrian bridge. There's also a sidewalk that leads to it. It puts you about 30 feet above the tracks. You can get some nice elevated shots with part of the town in the background. There's a chain link fence, but if your lens is small enough, you can shoot through it. If you're over 5'11" or have a small step stool, you can shoot over it. Over 100 trains a day come through -- there's never a dull moment.
GPS: 40°46'36.11"N and 99°44'39.41"W
Frograil thanks William Stewart for this location.
This is in downtown Omaha. A great view of action on the UP and BNSF mains. Near the Amtrak station.
An overpass of the UP mainline. Good morning viewing to the west, and great afternoon shots to the east.
This is the west end of the park. Good mid-day and afternoon/evening shots of BNSF east-west mainline coming out of Papio Creek Valley.
Located in the south/southwest part of the city, there are excellent views of UP's elevated double track mainline from F Street, between 84th and 72nd streets. Two impressive railroad trestles can be seen just to the north of F Street in this area.
This is an overview of the BN main, just west of 36th Street. Mid-day and afternoon are the best times for photos, facing north.
Just east of I-480. Here is an overlook of UP's Council Bluffs and Falls City Subdivisions, and BNSF's Omaha Subdivision. The best time for viewing is between mid-morning and late afternoon, facing to the north/northeast. You'll have a nice view of downtown Omaha as a backdrop for your pix.