Omaha Belt Line

Omaha Belt Line
Omaha Belt Line
Locale Omaha, Nebraska
Dates of operation 1883–Early 1960s

The Omaha Belt Line was a 15-mile (24 km) long railroad that circumnavigated Omaha, Nebraska, starting in 1885. The organization behind the line, called the Omaha Belt Railway, was incorporated two years earlier, in 1883.[1] Carrying passengers and cargo, the original line was operated by the Missouri Pacific Railroad, with the first line from the Sarpy County line into Downtown Omaha.[2]



The line was first associated with the Union Pacific Railroad, whose officers first registered it as a "pet project" in 1883.[3] In 1885 Jay Gould decided to use it to run the Missouri Pacific Railroad around Omaha. To ensure local agreement, Gould stacked the Omaha Belt Board of directors with local officials - except S.H.H. Clark, who was a former president of the Union Pacific - eager to work for Gould's growing empire.

After 1885, the railway was built entirely with materials from the Union Pacific.[4] That use of combined resources was the subject of a later dispute between the railroad companies which they carried to the US Railway Commission.[5] The case was eventually dropped.[6] By the 1920s, 178 trains per day went in and out of Omaha carrying mail, passengers, and freight.

The line was discontinued in the early 1960s as public transportation service in Omaha became more efficient and popular. Today a portion of the Belt Line has been turned into the Field Club Trail, a recreational trail in Omaha.

Lines and properties

Omaha Belt Line included the main yard at Nicholas Street in South Omaha, the "Alley" switching district in Downtown Omaha, the "short belt" industrial area and the Westside Junction. At the Junction the Belt Line interchanged with several other roads.[7] The Belt connected with the Missouri Pacific Railroad at South 48 and Leavenworth Streets.[8] The railroad also had branches into Lincoln, Wahoo and Nebraska City.[4]

See also

  • History of Omaha


  1. ^ (1888) Annual Report. Nebraska Board of Transportation. p 157.
  2. ^ Morton, J.S., Watkins, A. and Miller, G.L. (1911) "History of railroad construction", Illustrated History of Nebraska: A History of Nebraska from the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region, with Steel Engravings, Photogravures, Copper Plates, Maps and Tables. Western Publishing and Engraving Company. p 683. Retrieved 8/29/08.
  3. ^ Union Pacific Railroad Company. (1886) The Union Pacific Railway and Auxiliary Companies. Statistics Relating to Annual Meetings, Directors, Officers, Capital Stock, Funded Debt, Etc. p 14.
  4. ^ a b Klein, M. (1986). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 343. 
  5. ^ Young, C.P. (1887). Report of the Commission and of the Minority Commissioner of the United States Pacific Railway Commission. pp. 1282. 
  6. ^ United States Pacific Railway Commission. (1887) Report of the United States Pacific Railway Commission [and Testimony Taken by the Commission]. Government Printing Office. p 64.
  7. ^ "MoPac Right of Way". Screaming Eagles. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  8. ^ Kratville, W. (2002). Railroads of Omaha and Council Bluffs. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 75. 

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