Golden Spike National Historical Park

Sunday June 9th 2019

The temperature rebounded by ten degrees today. The bright sun got the temperature up to the high sixties. It was a very comfortable day.

I didn’t let the weather alter my plans today. After breakfast this morning I set out for the Golden Spike National Historical Park. It’s about forty miles from my camp at Willard Bay State Park. The drive was through ranch and farm land to an area in the middle of nowhere on the north side of the Great Salt Lake. The two companies building the transcontinental railroad met at Promontory Summit on May 10th 1869; a few weeks over 150 years ago.

The Central Pacific Rail Road Jupiter on the left (west) facing the Union Pacific Rail Road 119 on the right (east) side of the picture.

The entire site is a reconstruction of the meeting site. The route was shorted around the turn of the twentieth century with the opening of a causeway for the railroad across the northern part of the Great Salt Lake. The tracks through Promontory Summit were dormant until they were recycled as scrape to support World War II. The restoration of the area as a National resource began in the 1960s for the one hundredth anniversary in 1969. The two locomotives are reconstructions of the originals built in the 1970s.

The 119 is a coal fired steam engine.
The Jupiter is a wood fired steam engine.

The park, its displays and presentations are very well done. I watched the movie about the history of the railroad construction then went outside to observe the two locomotives and the location of the gold spikes. The actual spikes are currently on display in the Utah State Capital as part of the 150 anniversary.

Looking at the front of the Jupiter from the location of the Golden Spike.
Looking at the front of the 119 from the location of the Golden Spike.

The best part of the day was watching the engines build steam and get underway. Each of the two locomotives is moved in turn back down the track and then returned to their head to head position on either side of the Golden Spike location. A park ranger did a good job of describing the engines and what was happening as they moved, blew their whistles and rang their bells.

119 returning to the location of the Golden Spike.

When I returned to my RV home in the afternoon I was all alone in my part of the campground. All of the weekend campers had departed for home. Just before dark a couple of overnight campers arrived to keep me company.

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