Golden Spike National Historic Site

Location: Promontory, Utah
Date: August 17, 2011

Central Pacific Jupiter

Golden Spike National Monument memorializes the site where the first transcontinental railroad was ceremoniously completed on May 10, 1869.  This is where the Union Pacific Railroad, building track westward from Omaha joined the eastward advancing tracks of the Central Pacific Railroad, which originated in Sacramento.  Both railroads built tracks parallel to each other for miles both east and west of the site, but ultimately Promontory was chosen as the location to join the two.

Union Pacific 119

The site also encompasses several miles of the original grades, which have been turned into driving tour routes.  The most interesting section of this drive is along the entrance road to the east of the visitor center where both tracks descend to the valley below and pass locations of cuts and trestles.  Also along this section is Chinese Arch, a rock arch named in honor of the thousands of Chinese workers that built the railroad.

The Central Pacific grade (at right) and Union Pacific grade (dark line through center) descending towards Salt Lake City

The visitor center is located at the site where the ceremonial golden spike was tapped.  Every day from May through October nearly perfect replicas of the Central Pacific's Jupiter and Union Pacific's 119 locomotives are brought out to the ceremony site in the morning at a half hour interval.  They remain in place for the remainder of the day at the ceremony site.  If you would like to see them in action make sure to check the exact times that they will be moving.  From October to May the locomotives are kept in the engine house, and tours of the house are available multiple times a day.

Chinese Arch

The visitor center has several exhibits including a replica of the golden spike.  The original spike was driven by the Central Pacific's primary investor, Leland Stanford, who also founded Stanford University, where the original spike is now located.  There were three other spikes manufactured for the ceremony including a second golden spike, a solid silver spike, and an iron/silver spike.

The Jupiter at the ceremony site waiting for the 119

Golden Spike National Historic Site is located in a remote area, but at the intersection of route 83 with the access road is ATK, a company that has develops rockets for the military and NASA.  ATK has an interesting rocket display that you can walk around just north of the intersection.

The replica golden spike

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