Iron Roads - Making Tracks Across Nebraska

USGenWeb Project NEGenWeb Project

Dedicated To The Memory of Elmer McCowan

1887 - 1953

Telegraph Operator for the Missouri Pacific

in Union, Lincoln, and Auburn.

Later Station Master in Auburn and Brock, Nebraska

And to the memory of his brothers Joseph, Ed and George who also served as railroad telegraph operators in other states.

NEGenWeb Project Resource Center Railroad Section Managers:

Margo McPhillips and Connie Snyder

Nebraska Railroad
Nebraska Railroad
Nebraska Railroad Accidents Maps
Railroad Trivia
Railroads By Counties Names of Railroads in Nebraska
Nebraskans Who Worked For The Railroad Nebraska's First Railroad Survey Names of Men
Who Worked For Nebraska Railroads That I Have Gleaned
Railroad Job Descriptions
REA Good Railroad Information Links Great Plains Chapter, National Railroad Historical Society South Platte Press
Books on Nebraska and Other Railroads
(Off site)

Search for names on this website -
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Phyllis Cloyd has written a wonderful poem about Nebraska Trains and has granted her permission to share it on this page. Thank You, Phyllis!

Simple Pleasures

When I look back on my childhood,
    Living on the Nebraska plain,
I remember the sight of a ribbon of smoke
    From a fast approaching train.

Sometimes a silvery-sleek passenger train
    With windows of unknown faces,
More often it was a big, noisy freight
    With box cars from far away places.

With eager excitement I waited
    For the train to come in to view
So I could try to count the cars
    As they passed by in review.

But my fondest recollection,
    To this day so perfectly clear
Was the smile and friendly wave
    From the locomotive engineer.

     by  Phyllis Merryman Cloyd


From 1850 to 1975, the Railway Express Agency (REA) moved the nation's packages and freight. Once as common as FedEx and UPS is today, the big green trucks and rail cars of the REA were a welcome sight to anyone expecting a package. If your relative worked for the REA, he worked for the Railway Express Agency.

Railroad Accidents

Inquiries are sometimes received about persons who died in railroad accidents, often at unknown locations. This is virtually an impossible problem, as there are no centralized records of railroad accidents which identify victims of accidents prior to 1911. Such questions regarding accidents prior to 1911 can be researched only from local sources, and then only if the location and at least the approximate date of the accident is known. If the accident happened between 1911 and 1984, there is a good chance that the National Archives would have some information on the accident. The National Archives are the custodians of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Federal Railroad Administration investigations and reports between those dates. Again, I must emphasize this will only cover the period from 1911 to 1984. Prior to 1911, local newspapers are your best bet. Check Guide to Railroad Records at the National Archives for how to find information.

If you have information (newspaper article, etc.) about a railroad accident that took place in Nebraska, and you would like to share it with this site, please send me an email, as I have added several Nebraska Railroad Accidents and Wrecks Pages to this web site. I have also added a very interesting newspaper article that was sent to me by Margaret Baker of Monroe, Utah. This article is from the August 10th and 11th, 1894, Nebraska Star Journal. The article details a terrible intentionally caused train wreck. The article lists names of all the crew members, many of the passengers, and names of many who came to help the survivors. An interesting article, and a great source of names from 1894.

New!! - We've added a page for other Nebraska Railroad News Items.

They Worked For The Railroad

Nebraska Railroad Workers Biographies - the newest addition to our Nebraska Railroad Pages! I am starting to collect information on Nebraskans who worked for the railroad prior to 1950, but especially those prior to 1900. Visit this page for some very interesting reading!

NEW!!   Index of Names - NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH - Railroad Rota & Scrap-Iron from the Union Pacific.. Found on the Lincoln County NEGenWeb Project site.

NEW!!   UP Railroad News - North Platte Telegraph, May 22, 1889... Found on the Lincoln County NEGenWeb Project site.

Union Pacific Seniority list of Section Hands for the North Platte Branch - Posted on Keith County NEGenWeb Project site. It is not dated as a document, but gives an effective date of 1935. It includes several names and what we believe dates of employment, ranging from 1898-1928. It is broken down by section numbers and the names for each section, including Sarben, Keystone, Lewellen, Oshkosh, Broadwater, Northport, Gering, Lyman, Yoder, and Cottier. The page consists of a scan of the document, as well as a text transcription.

Union Pacific Seniority list, Grand Island, Nebraska - Union Pacific Seniority list of Transportation Employees and Yardmens Seniority Roster. This doesn't seem to be dated, but the last date shown is 1944. This has been presented to this site as part of the NEGenWeb Project OnLine Library and the Mardos Memorial Library.

Railroad Trivia

Interested in odd and unusual information about railroads, in and out of Nebraska? I have added a Railroad Trivia Page.

Great Plains National Railroad Historical Society

The Great Plains National Railroad Historical Society, with several hundred members, is located in Grand Island, Nebraska. It publishes a monthly newsletter called "The Diamond." For information about the Great Plains National Railroad Historical Society, you can contact
Roger Clark, Treasurer/Membership Chairman
Great Plains NRHS
PO Box 189
Grand Island, NE 68802
Phone 308 381-0185

Good Places To Go For Railroad Information On The Internet:

Note: The Following Web Pages Are Not Located Within This Web Site. You Will Need To Use Your Back Arrow If You Wish To Return Here.

Have a question about Nebraska's railroads? Two men who know trains and Nebraska Railroads have volunteered to help try to answer questions. James Reisdorff, of the South Platte Press, a publisher of many fine railroad books. James is a very avid railroad buff and historian. The other volunteer is Floyd Smith III. Floyd currently works for Union Pacific Railroad out of South Morrill and is on the run into the coal fields of Wyoming in the Powder River Basin. He has been working for the railroad for just over 10 years. He originally hired out for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad at South Morrill. The Union Pacific bought them out in April 1995. He has worked the Chadron to Long Pine run, Chadron to Rapid City, and the Chadron to Crawford. Although he is not a serious railroad history buff, please feel free to contact him with any questions you have about the coal fields of the Powder River Basin or any of the mines in that territory. He can also try and answer any questions about South Morrill. Floyd hired out as a Brakeman in August 1990, promoted to Conductor in Feb. 1991. He attended Engineers School in Nov. 1992 in Chicago and became a qualified Engineer in March 1993. He is currently a dues paying member of the United Transportation Union - Local #257 and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers - Division #303. His current assignment is the "swing job". He works Sat & Sun from 0700 to 1500 -- Mon & Tues 1500 to 2300 -- Wed & Thurs 2301 to 0700 with Fridays off.
Make sure to put NE Railroads in the subject line when writing either of these gentlemen. Thanks James and Floyd for volunteering your services!

Return to the NEGenWeb Resource Center

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Debt of Gratitiude

I owe a lot to the following volunteers from the Nebraska Genealogy Web (NEGenWeb), who so kindly and graciously did research and sent me valuable information for this article. I still have volumes of information from them that will be added to this site as time allows. My deepest thanks to: Barb Hruza, Pam Rietsch, Ginger Cisewski, Carolyn Wilkerson, James Kinman, Bill Wever, Ted and Carole Miller, and Connie Snyder. This is one dedicated group of volunteers that enjoy sharing and helping. Thanks, gang!
You are our [an error occurred while processing this directive] visitor since May 22, 2000 -- thanks for stopping by!

The End

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