Several times a day I experience the worst and most irritating pollution in the Sandhills – Union Pacific train horns. I live near a railway road crossing on the UP coal route and several times a day(and night) a train sounds its horn and destroys the natural serenity of the Sandhills. My crossing has crossing barriers that come down and block the tracks, warning lights and a bell. With these systems in place sounding the horns seems redundant. So what is the story behind trains sounding those irritating horns?

Beginning in 2006 Federal Regulations require the sounding of horns at public crossings. However, those same regulations also allow for the creation of “quiet zones” where horns are prohibited. You can find out if your location meets the criteria for establishing a quiet zone here:
These regulations apply to public crossings. The public entity that is responsible for the road(city, county, etc.) is the proper entity to apply for the establishment of a quiet zone. So if you are interested in establishing a quiet zone the proper road “owner” is the place to begin. Here in Keith County the commissioners were not aware of their ability to establish these zones. So you might have to begin the process by educating the governing officials. A good place to start is by visiting this page and down loading the pdf file:

Woodrow (Woody) Harper

Woodrow Harper lives in Sarben (Keith County), Nebraska. He used to make his living flying airplanes, and has traveled the world. Now he hides out from the popular culture (as best he can) in the valley of the North Platte river as it flows through the Sandhills. An avid reader, he enjoys the quiet and tranquility of his location. He has a JD degree. He has lived in Germany, England and Saudi Arabia.


  1. betty sayers June 27, 2016 at 5:07 pm -

    I marvel at your photos, and I smile thinking of your new issue with the Keith County commissioners. I am thinking of a bed & breakfast I reserved for 2 nights near the Loup River and Bessey Natinal Forest. The trains screamed through my sleeping area all night, and I left the next day. How do Halsey citizens although very few of them bear it? A good read and fun to consider! Good luck! You are a natural blogger! thank you b

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