Near Promontory in Box Elder County, Utah — The American Mountains (Southwest)
10 Miles of Track
In One Day.
April 28th 1869
Erected by National Park Service.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Transcontinental Railroad marker series.
Location. 41° 37.233′ N, 112° 32.8′ W. Marker is near Promontory, Utah, in Box Elder County. Click for map. Marker is in Golden Spike National Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Corinne UT 84307, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. September 1869 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Competition 1869 (approx. 0.3 miles away); May 9, 1869 (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Locomotives of Golden Spike - No. 119 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Jubilation Coast to Coast (approx. 0.3 miles away); Last Spike Driven (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Southern Pacific Monument (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Locomotives of Golden Spike - Jupiter (approx. 0.3 miles away).
Regarding 10 Miles of Track. The golden spike was made of 17.6-karat (73%) copper-alloyed gold, and weighed 14.03 troy ounces (436 g). It was dropped into a pre-drilled hole in the laurel ceremonial last tie, and gently tapped into place with a silver ceremonial spike maul. The spike was engraved on all four sides:
(Side 1): The Pacific Railroad ground broken Jan. 8th 1863, and completed May 8th 1869.
(Side 3): Officers. Hon. Leland Stanford. Presdt. C. P. Huntington Vice Presdt. E. B. Crocker. Atty. Mark Hopkins. Tresr. Chas Crocker Gen. Supdt. E. H. Miller Jr. Secty. S. S. Montague. Chief Engr.
(Side 4): May God continue the unity of our Country, as this Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world. Presented by David Hewes San Francisco.
The final minutes of the ceremony were wired from Promontory, Utah to telegraph offices around the country where waiting crowds hung on every word. “Hats off” went out the telegraph dispatch as the final four spikes (two gold and two silver) were about to be driven. Then with Governor Stanford on the north side of the track and Durant of the Union on the south side at the ready to hammer in the final two gold spikes, the telegraph wires carried this message: “All ready now. The spike will soon be driven. The signal will be three dots for the commencement of the blows.”
The next moment, as the silver hammers knocked in the golden spikes, the three dots were transmitted across the nation followed by a simple message — “Done.” It was about 12:45 in the afternoon in Promontory when the two engines moved up and touched each other and the event was christened by pouring champagne on the last rail to much cheering from the crowd of workers. One of the famous photographs of this event shows the two chief
Meanwhile there was much celebration throughout the nation of this event which was signaled by bells being rung in Washington, New Orleans, New York, Boston, and Omaha. A salute of 100 guns was fired in New York and there was a huge parade in Chicago. Many other major cities also had celebrations.
This was the highlight of the brief life of the town of Promontory, Utah. Shortly after this historic event the town was abandoned and all the buildings there disappeared. Oh, and as to those silver and golden spikes? You donít think the railroad companies would just leave them there for anybody to dig up later? They quickly replaced them with ordinary metal spikes.
Also see . . .
1. Golden Spike National Historic Site. Utah Travel Industry Website for the Golden Spike National Historic Site.
2. Golden Spike National Historic Site. National Park Serice Website for the Golden Spike National Historic Site.
1. Golden Spike
One of the most dramatic events in the history of human achievement was the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The meeting of these two railroads meant the joining of a continent. The 2000 miles from the Missouri River to the Pacific was reduced to six days travel
When it became obvious in early 1869 that the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads would meet in the first half of that year, the newspapers around the country were filled with daily reports about each days progress in terms of rail laid and descriptions about the work. As the gap between the two railroads narrowed, it was apparent that the historic meeting would occur at the Promontory Point area of Utah which was in a level circular valley of about three miles diameter and surrounded by mountains.
In the days leading up to the meeting of the railroads, the rival work gangs of the two railroads competitively laid out rail at a pace that tried to outdo each other. One day the Union Pacific work crews would lay six miles of rails only to be outdone the following day by the mostly Chinese workers of the Central Pacific laying down seven miles of rails. Finally, the construction boss of the Central Pacific, Charles Crocker, boasted that his Chinese workers could lay down 10 miles of rail in one day. So confident was Crocker that this could be achieved that he bet $10,000 that it could be done and Thomas C. Durant, vice-president of Union Pacific
The meeting of the railroads was originally scheduled for May 8, 1869 but because of a delay in the arrival of officials from the Union Pacific, it was re-scheduled to May 10. A little after eleven in the morning of that day, Governor Leland Stanford of California arrived in his Central Pacific train. Meanwhile the train from the Union Pacific was drawing closer as more rails were laid. At about noontime the trains were close enough that the last tie could be laid down. This tie was made of California laurel and had a silver plate in the middle engraved with the date and the names of the railroad officials of the two companies.
Categories. • Notable Events • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page originally submitted on December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,988 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 5. submitted on May 11, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.