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North Platte, Nebraska
Golden Spike Tower and visitor center at Union Pacific's Bailey Yards
Golden Spike Tower and visitor center at Union Pacific's Bailey Yards
Location of North Platte within Lincoln County and Nebraska
Location of North Platte within Lincoln County and Nebraska
Country United States
State Nebraska
County Lincoln
Area
 • Total 13.42 sq mi (34.76 km2)
 • Land 13.24 sq mi (34.28 km2)
 • Water 0.19 sq mi (0.48 km2)
Elevation
2,802 ft (854 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 23,390
 • Density 1,785.96/sq mi (689.57/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
69101, 69103
Area code(s) 308
FIPS code 31-35000
GNIS feature ID 0831719

North Platte is a city in and the county seat of Lincoln County, Nebraska, United States. It is located in the west-central part of the state, along Interstate 80, at the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers forming the Platte River. The population was 23,390 at the 2020 census.

North Platte is a railroad town; Union Pacific Railroad's large Bailey Yard is located within the city. Today, North Platte is served only by freight trains, but during World War II the city was known for the North Platte Canteen, a volunteer organization serving food to millions of traveling soldiers.

North Platte is the principal city of the North Platte Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson counties.

History

North Platte was established in 1868 when the Union Pacific Railroad was extended to that point. It was named from the North Platte River.

Geography

North Platte is located at 41°8′9″N 100°46′14″W / 41.13583°N 100.77056°W / 41.13583; -100.77056 (41.135914, −100.770501). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.39 square miles (34.68 km2), of which, 13.20 square miles (34.19 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.49 km2) is water.

Climate

North Platte experiences a dry continental climate similar to that of the Nebraska High Plains, classified as humid continental (Köppen Dwa), and, with an annual average precipitation of 20.22 inches (514 mm), barely avoids semi-arid; it is part of USDA Hardiness zone 5a. The normal monthly mean temperature ranges from 25.0 °F (−3.9 °C) in January to 74.3 °F (23.5 °C) in July. On average, there are 3.5 days that reach 100 °F (38 °C) or higher, 37 days that reach 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, 33 days that do not climb above freezing, and 13 days with a low of 0 °F (−18 °C) or below. The average window for freezing temperatures is September 26 thru May 10, allowing a growing season of 138 days. Extreme temperatures officially range from −35 °F (−37 °C) on January 15, 1888 and February 12, 1899, up to 112 °F (44 °C) on July 11, 1954; the record cold daily maximum is −15 °F (−26 °C) on January 14, 1888, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 80 °F (27 °C) on July 25, 1940.

Precipitation is greatest in May and June and has ranged from 10.01 in (254 mm) in 1931 to 33.44 in (849 mm) in 1951. Snowfall averages 28.5 in (72 cm) per season, and has historically ranged from 3.0 in (7.6 cm) in 1903–04 to 66.3 in (168 cm) in 1979–80; the average window for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snowfall is October 30 thru April 11, with May snow being rare.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 363
1890 3,055 741.6%
1900 3,640 19.1%
1910 4,793 31.7%
1920 10,466 118.4%
1930 12,061 15.2%
1940 12,429 3.1%
1950 15,433 24.2%
1960 17,184 11.3%
1970 19,447 13.2%
1980 24,509 26.0%
1990 22,605 −7.8%
2000 23,878 5.6%
2010 24,733 3.6%
2019 (est.) 23,639 −4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 24,733 people, 10,560 households, and 6,290 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,873.7 inhabitants per square mile (723.4/km2). There were 11,450 housing units at an average density of 867.4 per square mile (334.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.1% White, 1.0% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 2.8% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.8% of the population.

There were 10,560 households, of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.5% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.4% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.95.

The median age in the city was 37.1 years. 24.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 15.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

Points of interest

GID Landspout
A landspout near North Platte, Nebraska on May 22, 2004.

North Platte is home to the world's largest rail yard, Bailey Yard. The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center is an eight-story building which overlooks the expansive railroad staging area. The tower and visitor center are open to the public year-round.

North Platte was the western terminus of the Union Pacific Railway from the summer of 1867 until the next section to Laramie, Wyoming, was opened the following summer. Even though Congress had authorized the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1862, it was only extended as far as Nebraska City by the start of the summer of 1867. The 275-mile section from Nebraska City to North Platte was completed in less than six weeks.

Lincoln County Historical Museum contains a display detailing the history of the North Platte Canteen, which greeted 6.5 million service personnel from Christmas Day 1941 through April 1, 1946. It also contains a Prairie Village with local landmark homes and other buildings, including a Pony Express station and pioneer church among many others.

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park is located near North Platte, a Nebraska living history park about Buffalo Bill Cody. The park includes his actual house known as Scout's Rest Ranch. The park is two miles west of U.S. Highway 83 along U.S. Highway 30.

Every June, North Platte hosts the annual "Nebraskaland Days". The event includes parades, art shows, rodeos, concerts, and food events. It draws over 100,000 attendees every year.

North Platte is host to the annual Miss Nebraska pageant, an official preliminary for the Miss America Organization.

Infrastructure

Bailey Yard at night
Bailey Yard at night

Transportation

North Platte is home to the world's largest rail yard, Bailey Yard. The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center is an eight-story building which overlooks the expansive classification yard and engine facilities. The tower and visitor center are open to the public year-round. Passenger train service was discontinued in 1971.

North Platte is home to North Platte Regional Airport. United Express serves the airport with twice-daily service to Denver International Airport. There is also a door-to-door bus system available for residents of the town.

Notable people

  • Chris Başak, baseball infielder was born in North Platte. He played in the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees organizations. He made five appearances in the major leagues in 2007 with the Yankees, going 0-for-1.
  • Howard Baskerville, American teacher in the Presbyterian mission school in Tabriz, Iran; born in North Platte. He was killed defending the Constitutional Revolution of Iran and known as "American Martyr of the Constitutional Revolution."
  • Buffalo Bill Cody, iconic Wild West showman, owned a ranch in North Platte.
  • Nathan Enderle, football quarterback, selected by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft; born in North Platte and attended North Platte High School.
  • Paul Faulkner (1913–1997), artist; born in North Platte.
  • Chuck Hagel, Nebraska U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense; born in North Platte.
  • Bill Hayes, baseball player, lived in North Platte and attended Saint Patrick's High School.
  • Henry Hill (1943–2012), New York City mobster; worked as a cook in North Platte.
  • John Howell, former American football safety in the National Football League, played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks; born in North Platte.
  • Glenn Miller, popular big band leader; lived in North Platte for one year during his early childhood.
  • Keith Neville, 18th governor of Nebraska; born in North Platte.
  • Joe Ragland (born 1989), American-Liberian basketball player for Hapoel Holon of the Israeli Basketball Premier League
  • Red Cloud, Sioux warrior; born near North Platte in 1822.
  • Dr. Don Rose, San Francisco Bay Area disc jockey; born and raised in North Platte and frequently referred to the city on his morning show.
  • Ryan Schultz, professional mixed martial artist, Lightweight Champion of defunct IFL; raised in North Platte.
  • Zane Smith, professional baseball player, was a two-sport athlete for North Platte 1978-79, before spending 13 years in major league baseball.
  • Danny Woodhead, retired NFL running back; born in North Platte and attended North Platte High School.

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