North Platte isn’t that bad


Haley McKain, Co-Editor in Chief

I used to be the kid that longed to leave this town; every other day I had a new reason for why living in North Platte was the absolute worst. Now that I’m actually about to leave for college, it’s given me some perspective. I can’t help but be thankful to have grown up here. It’s easy to see all of the good things North Platte offers, I’ve previously taken advantage of.

North Platte does have a really bad reputation though, mostly for drugs. We’re known as Crack Platte, The Dirty, or my personal favorite, The Meth Capital of I-80. When I’m out of town and someone asks me what part of Nebraska I live in, their reaction usually consists of a judgemental eye roll or a concerned look with an awkward laugh. If you think about it though, all of the bad things North Platte is known for, those things happen in literally every other town too. Guess what? Meth is not made and sold only in North Platte, Nebraska.

Here’s the thing though: North Platte is what you make it. If you hang around people who do drugs, North Platte will be full of drugs. If you hang around mundane people, North Platte will be mundane. But, if you hang out around cool people who do fun things, North Platte will be cool and fun.
Nature: North Platte has so many opportunities to experience the outdoors. Most towns don’t have a decent-sized lake 10 minutes away; thank you, Lake Maloney. I don’t know how many people have ever been tubing with their best friends or fishing with their grandpa, but those moments are practically irreplaceable.

Also, did you know that North Platte has 11 parks? If you’re reading this as a high school student, that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. When you’re 6 though, your options for favorite swing set seemed endless. There aren’t many other places that have something as special as Cody Park either. They have mini carnival rides for kids and concession stands in the summer where they serve the best ice cream in town. It has geese, donkeys, llamas, and buffalo grazing throughout the park that you’re able to feed. We must’ve all been bit by the geese a hundred times, which has left almost everyone with a slightly irrational fear of them. Most importantly though, the hill at Cody Park is perfect for sledding the day after a big snow storm.

Tourism: If you’ve been to Scout’s Rest Ranch, you likely won’t have to ever go again to remember the vivid experience, but you should anyways. The house is intimidating and I remember being so scared to break something because 1) I would get it trouble, and 2) it could also provoke the ghosts who are probably residing there. The red barn is equally as creepy, but with a weird smell, too. We all know the smell.

Nebraskaland Days is a hit in North Platte during the summer. Florida Georgia Line maxed out the arena in 2015 for the annual Summer Jam Concerts. At that concert, I met people that traveled all the way from Arizona. A few other major parts of Nebraskaland Days are the annual parade, the antique car parade, and the week-long rodeo.

Remember Railfest? One of the many events at Cody Park with free food, games, and prizes? Yeah, people all over the country visit North Platte just to attend that and to see the biggest rail hump yard in the world. In case you didn’t know, that’s Bailey Yards, and it splits our town in half. These things don’t seem important to us because we’ve been there and done that a thousand times, but people literally vacation to North Platte for them.

Christmas: North Platte might be in the top 10 most festive towns during the holidays, according to me anyways. At Cody Park, Santa’s Workshop opens in the beginning of December. I’m sure you already know, but the rides open back up, there’s hot chocolate at the concession stands, and they display mini-houses that have had the same Christmas decorations for years. Other towns might have entire blocks that elaborately decorate their houses, but do they have Candy Cane Lane? No, that’s a North Platte tradition too. Buffalo Bill’s Rest Ranch does Christmas at the Cody’s where they offer tours of the museum, hot apple cider, and roasted chestnuts afterwards.

Small town feel: Living in North Platte can seem boring at times, unless you have a burning passion for bowling, golfing, or visiting banks. The thing is though, we are within four hours of some bigger and “better” places. Do you want to spend hours browsing and buying things you definitely don’t need? There’s a Target in Kearney, and that’s one hour and 35 minutes away. Is your favorite artist going on tour? The Pepsi Center in Denver is three hours and 54 minutes away, and if you don’t want to be in the car that long, going to the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln cuts your trip time by 28 minutes. Living in North Platte allows you to experience slightly larger cities when you want, but when you’re sick of it, you get to come home and the only intense traffic you have to deal with begins around 3 o’clock Monday-Friday.

School: North Platte High School, much like the town itself, has a really bad reputation. Kids are dropping out, fighting in bathrooms, blah blah blah. But let’s think about it for a minute. There’s schools that literally have metal detectors at every entrance and security guards roaming the hallways.
Our school is lucky enough to have extracurricular sports and activities, resources like good books and new computers, and some of the best teachers ever. There are definitely fights but what is high school without a couple of them?

A lot of people are going to read this story and think that all of these things previously listed are small and irrelevant. They will continue to only think about the negative things that circulate around North Platte. Make the best of North Platte, we’re luckier than we think to live here.