The legacy of the Golden Spike Ceremony lives on at Promontory’s National Historic Site, even though both engines were scrapped and sold for $1,000 each by the early 1900’s.
A four year labor of love completed the accurate replicas of the Central Pacific (CP) Jupiter and Union Pacific (UP) No. 119, in time for the 110th anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony. Disney employees did the painting and lettering of the gas burners, and the wood in the tender served only to hide the natural gas tank. In 1991, the engines were converted to burn their original fuels, wood for the Jupiter and coal for No. 119.
Watching the trains rolling along the tracks and viewing the exhibits and pictures in the Visitor’s Center took us back to that time when the 1st Intercontinental Railroad was completed. What really gave us a deeper historical perspective, was the 1.5 mile walking trail. We viewed evidence of construction methods used by simple tools, sweat and an amazing amount of endurance. We walked on the original track railbed and saw drill marks where workers blasted the rock away, which brought to life the pictures displayed in the visitor’s center.
The 14 mile auto drive on the railbed allowed us a closer view of the dirt fills, a stair-step cut, rock and wood culverts, and a distant glimpse of the Great Salt Lake. The self-guided drive includes the spot where the CP workers completed 10 miles of track in one day and the Union and Central Pacific’s parallel grades.
Interestingly, the parallel grades continued for 250 miles without any track being laid down. Congress forced the two companies to agree on a meeting place. They finally chose the midway point at the end of the track for each railroad company, which was at Promontory Summit.
Golden Spike National Historic Site is located near the ATK Aerospace Center where you can walk among the rockets on display. Also, another unique site is the Spiral Jetty which is 16 miles to the southwest.