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Omaha Lincoln & Beatrice - Great Plains-West Rail Gallery
Omaha Lincoln & Beatrice
Lincoln and Ashland, Nebraska


"The Big Red Line" - the Omaha, Lincoln & Beatrice is a long-time Nebraskan shortline. The railway once ran trolleys through Lincoln, Omaha and Beatrice, thus it's name. Today it operates as a switching service in their yard south of the state fairgrounds in Lincoln and at Ashland's gravel pit north of town. In the Lincoln the line once ran parallel to the MoP. An old brick engine/trolley house still stands near 33rd Street, now used for storage by the city . I haven't found any records to support my guess, but I bet this was owned by OL&B.

Operations by OL&B are normally conducted during regular business hours on weekdays, though when business picks up it's possible to see the red switcher shuffling cars near an elevator on a Saturday.

Assigned to Lincoln's rails is switch engine 47, a former Rock Island rebuilt SW1200. It's often seen serving the Reimers-Kaufman concrete industry on 17th Street, and two large grain elevators near 27th Street in the OL&B yard. During non-business hours the engine is housed in its own single stall train-shed. Hopper cars are interchanged with BN/BNSF through their Omaha Line at 17th Street. Up until its dismantlement in Fall 2000, the MoPac, now UP routinely interchanged through the old MP track, also near 17th Street.

A GE 44 ton switcher - OL&B 101, and a GE 70 ton switcher - OL&B 102 are also on duty, assigned to the gravel pit in Ashland. The OL&B doesn't have a direct connection between the Lincoln and Ashland lines .


According the corporate owner's site, ..."OL&B RAILWAY COMPANY was purchased in 1929 by NEBCO ( one of Nebraska’s largest privately owned firms) to haul freight between University Place and 14th and X Streets. Interchange tracks with other rail lines were built in the vicinity of 17 & Holdredge Streets. Today, the OL&B is a Class III switching railroad that interchanges cars from the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads to industries on the OL&B line, serving lumber and agricultural businesses and Ready Mixed Concrete Company."


Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image

OL&B 101 - Trundling beyond the Holdrege Street overpass. This rare photo of the local switching company's muscle was taken in the Spring or early Summer of 1958. - Copyright 1958, 2007 Scott E. Farleigh

" My Granduncle Johnny (John Nix) was (OL&B #101's) engineer until his death in 1959. My dad told me about Uncle Johnny working 16+ hour days during harvest season switching boxcars loaded with grain between the CB&Q and Rock Island (he may have meant MoPac). Unfortunately my dad is long gone, hence I can't verify the CB&Q/RI interchange. According to dad, the OL&B was the only connection between the two railroads. One of my earliest memories was dad taking me for rides on Uncle Johnny's engine, #101. My last ride was when I was three years old, just before Uncle Johnny passed away, and I can still remember getting to pull the horn cord! (editor's note: Both the MoP and the Rock met and interchanged with the OL&B and in turn the CB&Q east of 17th Street.)

BTW, the old brick engine/trolley house between Y street and Apple west of 33rd was used by OL&B as their trolley house. I do not know if OL&B actually owned it. However, my dad told me that Uncle Johnny would park the gasoline trolley car there. Uncle Johnny was the trolley car's motorman until the OL&B discontinued service. The trolley ran from the 17th facility into Havelock and back. (the trolley house still stands, now fenced-off and apparently used by the city/university to store street maintenance equipment.) - contributed by Scott E. Farleigh

OL&B 47 - an ex-Rock Island rebuilt SW1200 is a common sight in the yards near the state fairgrounds if you know where and when to look. Here #47's pulling up to the old MoPac track near the OL&B yard to grab some hopper cars from the Union Pacific.

#47 tugs grain to the Scouler elevator - June 1995

The 27th Street overpass is in the background. Crews like to park under the overpass as shade for the switcher during the hot Nebraska summers - June 1995

OL&B 47 waits for the handoff as a UP crew pull graincars past the switch on the old MoPac track - 11/30/95

OL&B 47 crawls onto the old MoPac and grabs the cars from the UP crew - 11/30/95

OL&B 47 begins the drag to the OL&B yard - 11/30/95

OL&B 106 - a string of aging offset side triple hoppers, used for shipping sand, in the "Big Red" scheme. 4/24/96

OL&B 1098 - the company also owns a large number of vintage ore cars which serves the local concrete industries. 7/8/95

OL&B 1098 detail


OL&B caboose - for a time this unmarked waycar was seen used in the rail company's freightyard at Lincoln. 6/1/96

OL&B 47 seen in yard from 28th Street. 2/8/97

Recommended Links:

Don's Rail Photos - Omaha Lincoln & Beatrice - early equipment owned by OL&B

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Latest update: Friday, 25 April, 2008

All photos & text © 2000-2003 T. Greuter / Screaming Eagles , unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.