The Route: North Platte to Rock Springs

Pilots flying the mail cross-country in 1921 followed these directions to find landmarks along the way.

A light beacon tower (used for night flying) on the airmail field in North Platte, Nebraska in the mid-1920s. The field boundary light is visible in the right foreground. (NASM 00191470)

U. S. Air Mail Service
Pilots’ Directions (February 1921)

North Platte to Cheyenne

Miles from Omaha

248.    North Platte—After crossing the Union Pacific Railroad no distinguishing landmarks are available, but flying west the Platte River will be seen to the south, gradually getting nearer to the course. The city of North Platte is located at the junction of the north and south branches of the Platte River. The field is located on the east bank of the north branch about 2 ½ miles east of the town, just 100 yards south of the Lincoln Highway Bridge. Another bridge, the Union Pacific Railroad bridge, crosses the stream a mile farther north. The field is triangular with the hangar at the apex of the triangle and on the bank of the river. The field, which is bounded on the southwest by the river bank and on the north side by a ditch, has an excellent turf covered surface always in a dry condition. The field is longer east and west and the best approach is from the end away from the hangar. Cross field landings should not be attempted near the hangar, as the field is narrow at this point. The altitude of North Platte is 2,800 feet or about 2,000 feet higher than the Omaha field.

298.   Ogallala—The south branch of the Platte River parallels the course to this point and the north branch is only a mile or two north of the course, veering gradually to the northward. The double tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad follow the course to this point. Fly directly west from this point, the south branch of the Platte River and the Union Pacific Railroad, veering to the southward.

338. Chappell—Two miles south of the course on the Union Pacific tracks and on the north bank of the Lodgepole Creek.

342. Lodgepole—Directly on the course between the Union Pacific Railroad and Lodgepole Creek. From here on to Sidney the course lies over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Lodgepole Creek.

360. Sidney—The Union Pacific double track runs through here east and west, crossed at right angles by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad running north and south. Two miles west of Sidney the Union Pacific double track veers to the north, following the course of the Lodgepole Creek. The course, due west, lies from 4 to 6 miles south of the railroad and creek for the next 60 miles.

395. Kimball—Five miles north of the course on the Union Pacific Railroad and Lodgepole Creek.

420.  Pine Bluff—On the Union Pacific Railroad 2 miles north of the course. The railroad and creek again cross the course, the railroad, turning westward to Cheyenne and the creek, continuing south for 4 miles and then eastward. The country between Sidney and Pine Bluff is the roughest on the whole course from Omaha to Cheyenne, but plenty of emergency fields are found. A ridge extends southward from Pine Bluff, on which numerous dark green trees may be seen. Two miles southwest of Pine Bluff the Union Pacific tracks are crossed and for 5 miles lie south of the course. Then another intersection of the course and the railroad looping to the northward and again crossing the course at the small town of Archer.

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