Okay, first, a definition. A “Union Station” is any train depot which serves more than one railroad line. At one time, there were seven lines stopping at Omaha’s Union Station. These were: the Union Pacific (subject of "Hell on Wheels" the TV series), Chicago & Northwestern, Chiacgo, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (this is the famous Rock Island Line of the song), Illinois Central, Missouri Pacific, and the Wabash Railway. (pause for breath here)

The Station opened on January 15, 1931 and was Omaha’s second Union Station as well as Union Pacific’s seventh train depot in the since since 1866, so at this time, Omaha wasn’t called the “Gateway to the West” for nothing.

The Terminal of the station is called the Great Hall and looks much like it always has, with the exception of the ticker teller’s booths being turned into a gift shop and the barber shop now housing the Station Library. The Hall is 72 feet wide and 159.5 feet long. The ceiling is 60 feet high.

The Station featured a “soda fountain”, a restaurant with a lunch counter and a formal “sit-down” area, and chefs from its trains. Later, it was taken over by a local restauranteur and renaned the Hayden House. Hayden House later moved to Eppley Airfield airport in 1960. There was also a barbershop and a Western Union telegraph office, a small hospital, and a traveler’s aid office. The Superintendent’s office and the Union Pacific agent’s office was also at the Station. During WW2, there was a USO canteen in the Station which took over the entire floor, causing the superintend and agent’s office to be moved downstairs.

In 1996, sculptor John Labja was commissioned to create six scupture groups for the Station’s Great Hall. There include a man studying the train schedule (around his feet can be seen the actual depressions made in the floor by all the passengers walking about over the decades), a sailor and a soldier waiting for a train, a girl and her uniformed sweetheart, an old man, a soldier saying farewell to his family, a new arrival to town, and a woman buying a ticket. The statues are lifesize and cast in bronze.

The Station closed on May 2, 1971, due to the rise of superhighways connecting the nation and the abundance of airplane enabling passengers to reach cities more quickly.

It now houses the Durham Museum and an abundance of Omaha history.



12 comments

  1. DebraParmley // April 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM  

    Interesting blog! And timely for me as I just arrived home from the Rt convention in Chicago via the train which left out of Union Station there. :-)

    It was a good trip, much better than traveling by plae would have been.

  2. Karyn Good // April 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM  

    Interesting blog! I was surprised to read it included a hospital! Must have been quite the place. I remember taking the train to my uncle's wedding when I was ten or eleven. It was quite the adventure. One I love to repeat with a VIA train ride through the Rockies.

  3. Mary Ricksen // April 16, 2012 at 11:41 AM  

    What a great place!! Reminds me of Grand Central station only empty!
    Love trains!

  4. A.D. // April 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM  

    Looks like the sculptures are worth the visit alone. Thanks for this.

  5. Toni V.S. // April 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM  

    They still take visitors on train rides and there's a train, complete with engine and cars that you can walk through. Very surprising how it looks inside.

  6. Judy // April 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM  

    Toni, It's beautiful! I love the sculptures and the fact that they still respect train service!!

  7. Autumn Jordon // April 16, 2012 at 2:45 PM  

    I love visiting places like this. I'm making a note and putting the muesum on my wish to see list. Just beautiful.

    Is this nearn the cattle yards, yet?

    Thanks for sharing, Toni.

  8. Mary Marvella // April 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM  

    This looks like a place I would enjoy visiting. Good blog and awesome pictures.

  9. desitheblonde // April 17, 2012 at 3:46 PM  

    wow glad you did not get hurt and then my brother would go nuts there the statute are great they look live lie

  10. Damyanti // April 17, 2012 at 8:52 PM  

    such wonderful pictures.. all of them.

    Look forward to the rest of your challenge run…can’t believe we’ve had 16 days already!
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

  11. Beth Trissel // April 17, 2012 at 11:27 PM  

    How very interesting, Toni. What a lot of history this station has seen. Great pics too.

  12. Josie // April 20, 2012 at 10:53 PM  

    Toni,
    So interesting and such fabulous pics. Thanks for sharing.