“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Promontory in Box Elder County, Utah — The American Mountains (Southwest)

10 Miles of Track

10 Miles of Track Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Stroud, circa June 1997
1. 10 Miles of Track Marker
This is still a record!
10 Miles
Track, Laid
In One Day.
April 28th 1869

Erected by National Park Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable EventsRailroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Transcontinental Railroad series list.
Location. 41° 37.233′ N, 112° 32.8′ W. Marker is near Promontory, Utah, in Box Elder County. Marker is in Golden Spike National Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Corinne UT 84307, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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); Transforming Communication: from Coast to Coast (approx. 0.3 miles away); Golden Spike (approx. 0.3 miles away); Last Spike Driven (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Southern Pacific Monument (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
Where East Meets West image. Click for full size.
By Michael Stroud, circa June 1997
2. Where East Meets West
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 2): Directors of the C. P. R. R. of Cal. Hon. Leland Stanford. C. P. Huntington. E. B. Crocker. Mark Hopkins. A. P. Stanford. E. H. Miller Jr.

(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
Done ! image. Click for full size.
By Michael Stroud, June 1997
3. Done !
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 engineers of railroads shaking each other’s hands.

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 don’t 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. (Submitted on December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 

2. Golden Spike National Historic Site. National Park Serice Website for the Golden Spike National Historic Site. (Submitted on December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 
Additional comments.
1. Golden Spike
One of the most dramatic events in the history of human
Silver "Last Tie" Plate image. Click for full size.
By Michael Stroud, June 7, 1997
4. Silver "Last Tie" Plate
The last tie laid on the completion of the Pacific Railroad, May, 1869.
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 time instead of six months. Additionally, the cost of traveling across the continent was reduced from approximately $1000 down to a mere $70. The public at that time was fully aware of the dramatic implications of the joining of the railroads. The fanfare revolving around the meeting of the railroads at Promontory, Utah was equivalent to the public reaction to the Moon landing of a hundred years later in 1969.

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
350. Railroad Camp near Victory. 10 1/4 miles laid in one day. image. Click for full size.
B. Swackhamer Photograph Collection, n/a
5. 350. Railroad Camp near Victory. 10 1/4 miles laid in one day.
Stereograph taken by A. A. Hart
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 took that bet. In an amazing feat, which has yet to be equaled even with today's modern techniques, the Central Pacific workers on April 28, 1869 were able lay the 10 miles of track in just 12 hours. This event helped to heighten the public’s awareness of the impending meeting of the two railroads in Promontory, especially since this feat brought them just a few miles from the appointed meeting point of the two railroads. Meanwhile, work crews from the Union Pacific set out to build the work camp at Promontory, which mostly meant construction of saloons and houses of prostitution.

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.
    — Submitted December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud
Original Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, April 17, 2019
6. Original Marker
On display in the Pioneer Memorial Museum in Salt Lake City.
of Bluffton, South Carolina.
Original Marker image. Click for full size.
7. Original Marker
Photo on display in Pioneer Memorial Museum.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 18, 2007, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 3,617 times since then and 55 times this year. 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 Brentwood, California.   6, 7. submitted on May 10, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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May. 29, 2020