“May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world.”
-- Engraved on the Golden Spike
On May 10, 1869, the Union and Central Pacific Railroads converged at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory. In a special ceremony, four spikes were presented to commemorate the completion of the 1,776-mile railroad.
The “Golden Spike” was commissioned by Leland Stanford, President of Central Pacific Railroad, after he tried unsuccessfully to raise funds to cast a section of rail from solid silver or gold. The 5-5/8” long spike was made from 14 ounces ($400 worth at that time) of 17.6-carat gold. It joined a forged silver spike made in Nevada, a gold and silver plated spike from Arizona, and a second, smaller gold spike from San Francisco.
At Golden Spike National Historic Site, living historians recreate the presentation ceremony each summer. You can also see steam demonstrations by two replica Victorian-era locomotives, the Jupiter and the No. 119. Five entertaining films about the railroad are available for viewing on request in the visitor center.
Walk the 1.5-mile Big Fill Loop Trail and see the back-filled ravine created to enable trains to make the 2% grade. Two driving routes also follow the original railroad grade.