Friday, April 17, 2009

A Visit To Mecca...

I can't believe it. I finally got the chance, and I took it. All my life I wanted to go to Promontory Point to see where the golden spike was driven. So this week, after I'd wrapped up a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, I drove to this magical place.

Now, if you know your history, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific met on May 10, 1869 to complete the first transcontinental railroad.

I stood on the laurel wood tie (a replacement) and looked around me. The area is as desolate as it was when they built the railroad. Plains with rolling hills of grass and rock surrounded me on all sides. The rain drizzled down on me as I was the only one standing there.

While there I learned a few important things...

1. The railroads missed intersection with each other by 250 miles.
2. The golden spike was driven at Promontory SUMMIT, not Promontory Point which is much further south of the site.
3. None of the original gold or silver spikes is at the museum and most are at Standford University.
4. The golden spike was never really driven. It was of 17 carat gold and was too soft to take a hit.
5. Both dignitaries, one from each railroad, took turns driving spikes and both missed.
6. The Jupiter and the 119 locomotives are both recreations, made in the 1970's.

What a fun place! There isn't much there so you REALLY need to be a train nut to go. The best part was going to the engine house. You have to ask for permission to go and they gladly send you on your way with a permit. I was able to corner Ranger W. Daubert and spent a wonderful time learning about American locomotives from him. He is great!!!

What fun!

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