The Golden Spike National Historical Park in Utah – Day 44

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.

golden spike national monument
This Monument was placed at the location of the golden spike to represent the location where the railroads were connected for the very first time.

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.

golden spike museum
In an effort to complete the railroad to meet the May deadline, the workers were able to complete 10 miles of track laid in just one day.

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.

the last tie
The last tie was made from California Laurelwood and had 4 holes drilled in it for the ceremonial 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.

The golden spike
We were even able to lay a replica Golden Spike to complete the railroad ourselves.

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.

engine No. 119
Engine No. 119 – an exact replica of the steam engine used at the meeting of the railroads.

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.

The Jupiter Steam Engine that is used for reenactments during the summer months.

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


  • 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

Follow along by signing up for our twice weekly email updates at the bottom of the page. You can also follow us on Facebook : Live Simple Tour Facebook and Instagram : Live Simple Now Instagram Page.

2 thoughts on “The Golden Spike National Historical Park in Utah – Day 44

  • October 23, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    If you haven’t watched the AMC series about this called “Hell on Wheels” I recommend it when you get home. It’s 5 seasons long. We watched it a few years ago. It may be on Netlfix.

    • October 24, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks Mike We will definitely look into watching it.


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