Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Trip - The Golden Spike

In the 1800s, when the transcontinental railroad was being built, they started on the west coast and headed eastward, and at the same time they started near the Mississippi River and headed westward. Where the two construction efforts met was in the very northern part of Utah. That's where they nailed down the last link of the rails to the last of the railroad ties in a ceremony that culminated with the hammering of the Golden Spike.

The National Park Service operates the Golden Spike Naitonal Monument at the site. On another of my executive decisions, we went there, 25 miles off the highway through peaceful farmland, including a detour on a gravel and dirt road, with a couple hefty hills to climb.

They have the two steam locomotives, restored and beautifully painted, on display.

Each train has a platform behind it, where you can climb to look inside the engineer's compartment. But there's no climbing on the trains themselves. A special railroad tie marks the spot where the final tie joined the East with the West.

The Visitor's Center has maps of the route and some glass cases showing the life of the laborers and the work they did. Most of the workers heading west were Irish, and most of the ones heading east were Chinese, and the displays reflect the differences. The also show newspaper articles and signs recognizing milestones in the construction.

The Golden Spike itself is not at the momument. It was brought personally to the ceremony by Leland Stanford (of Stanford University), and he took it back with him after the ceremony. It's on display at Stanford.

We looked at the trains, and then my mom went back to the Visitor's Center to watch the 20-minute video, while I stayed outside and took lots of artsy photos of the locomotives. I absolutely love my new camera!

Going 25 miles off the highway seemed like a long way to go for an unknown, but the minute we pulled up to the parking lot there and saw the two trains in the distance, we knew we had made the right decision.


Branddobbe said...

You didn't take any pictures of the maps? Mother, I feel so betrayed!

SkyePuppy said...

My dear son,

Yes, I took a picture of a map. I just didn't post it. I took LOTS of pictures I didn't post.