Today we had the pleasure of spending some time at The Golden Spike National Historical Park.
Just northwest of Salt Lake City, we made this our final stop in Utah.
We both have always been fascinated with the beauty and history of trains. In fact, during our first week of the trip we spent the night at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, NE which is the largest rail yard in the world.
Then we had the pleasure of taking a Steam Engine Train ride through the Black Hills of South Dakota.
But today we were at the location of one of the most iconic and life-altering events in America’s history. It is the exact site of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad which happened on May 10, 1869.
Golden Spike National Historical Park
Golden Spike National Historical Park sits at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory. When we arrived we immediately headed to the visitor’s center to learn more about the connection of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads.
Here is where we learned about the laborious construction process of building the connecting railroads over a 6 year time frame.
Not only did groups have to smooth the ground to lay the ties and rails, they also had to blast and dig through mountains to allow the rails to pass through.
This tedious process, among rugged weather conditions, cost many workers their lives.
But in May, 1869 the final spike was driven, making the railroad complete.
There was large ceremony to commemorate the completion. The last tie on the railroad was made from highly polished California Laurelwood and had 4 holes drilled for the spikes.
There were 4 precious spikes that were driven by Dignitaries during the ceremony. The golden spike is the ceremonial 17.6-karat gold final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of across the United States.
Not only did it connect the West coast with the East coast, it also connected communications via Telegraph as well. And as the last spike was driven, the telegraph message D-O-N-E was sent.
And when we had a opportunity to explore the Golden Spike location, we actually had the chance to replicate the completion of the railroad ourselves.
The Engine House
After exploring the grounds, museum and watching a short video about the era, we headed to the Engine House to see the steam engine locomotives.
Jupiter and No. 119 our housed here from mid-October to late April. These engines are fully-functional replicas of the original locomotives that met here on May 10, 1869, for the “Wedding of the Rails” ceremony.
Although they aren’t the restored original engines, they are exact replicas that were built within 1/4 inch accuracy.
During the summer months, the two engines run down the rails. This allows visitors to enjoy a visual reenactment of the era.
However, the engines themselves are just as impressive to see in the Engine House. You can walk around each one and get a close up view of the details and design of each engine. It was truly an impressive sight, especially when you think about the construction and detail required and completed in the 1800’s.
As we left the Golden Spike National Historical Park, we both were amazed at not only the labor that it took to build the transcontinental railroad, but how it truly shaped America in terms of travel and product shipment.
It is a visit that was well worth the drive as we headed out of Utah on our way to Idaho.
Happy Traveling – Jim and Mary
CURRENT TRIP STATS
- Day 44 of 365
- States Visited 8 / 50
- National Parks / Monuments Visited : 10
- Stayed In : Twin Falls, Idaho
- Miles Driven : 254.2
- Total Trip Miles To Date : 5901.9
- Total Gallons Used : 437.18
- Biking Miles : 0
- Biking Miles To Date : 109.6
- Hiking Miles : .5
- Hiking Miles To Date : 117.0
About Our Living Simple Tour
On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States