Sunday, May 4, 2008

Golden Spike National Historic Site

On May 10, 1869 the final rail was laid and the final spike driven for the transcontinental railroad. The east and west coasts were now united by a transportation system that could carry people and goods far more easily and conveniently than ever before. The place where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads met, where the two engines, Jupiter and No. 119, faced each other nose to nose was Promontory Summit, Utah.

The Golden Spike National Historic Site is located 32 miles west of Brigham City, Utah and is a fascinating place with great historic significance. There is a visitors center where there are interesting displays on the transcontinental railroad, slide shows and films about the railroad and the driving of the final spike. Just don't expect to see THE golden spike- it's not there. It is at a museum at Stanford University.

The main feature of the site during the summer are the two replicas of the original steam engines, the Jupiter and No. 119. From May 1 through Labor Day, the engines are on display and operate daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Saturday's the two locomotive are drawn head to head and the Golden Spike Ceremony is reenacted. In the winter months the locomotives are stored in the engine house.

There is a walking trail- the Big Fill Loop Trail which a mile and a half long trail that lets you walk on the original Central Pacific grade. See the Big Fill where a ravine was filled in to allow the trains to maintain a 2% or less grade, climb the ravines and over the fills. Remember, construction was done by hand with the help of some explosives.

You can also take two auto tours- the East Auto Tour and West Auto Tour. The East tour is a 2 mile loop drive. You'll see the Union Pacific's last cut; several trestle abutments and fills; drive through cuts made by blasting rock; and walk to the Chinese Arch, a natural limestone formation, a memorial to the thousands of Chinese who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Descend the steepest mile of railroad grade in Utah as you leave the tour.

The West Auto Tour is a 14-mile loop drive. You'll see the Union Pacific parallel grade; pass through several cuts; view fills, a stair-step cut, rock and wood culverts, and a distant glimpse of the Great Salt Lake. Pass the spot where the Central Pacific workers laid 10 miles of track in one day.

Normally, entrance to the historic site is $7.00 per car, which isn't bad for a family. This Saturday, May 10, 2008 is the anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike. There locomotives will arrive at 9:30 a.m. and it will be a day of festivities. There will be bands and choirs, and Anniversary Program, an historic photograph recreation of the Champagne Photo, steam demonstrations, and reenactments of driving the last spike. These activities should have some fun for the whole family and the park will be open FREE of charge for the day. Get out there and have some fun. Oh, and don't forget the camera.

Just a couple of suggestions. Take a picnic (or at least some food) if you plan to spend the day. There are no concessions, only vending machines. Also, check your gas gauge when you turn off at Brigham City. There is are no gas stations once you leave Corinne- about 25 miles away from the park.

Place: Golden Spike National Historic Site
Location: 32 miles west of Brigham City, UT via Utah Highway 83
Phone: 435.471.2209
Hours: 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's
Cost: $7.00 per car (May 10, 2008 is a FREE day)

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 86.7 miles
Ogden: 52 miles
Logan: 50.3 miles
Provo: 128 miles

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