Golden Spike National Hist. Park Promontory Trail Guide


The Driving Tour Guidebook of the Promontory Trail features Golden Spike National Historical Park, which was set aside by Congress to document and explain the importance and construction of the nation's first transcontinental railroad.

On April 28, 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad established a record that has never been equaled. The Union Pacific once laid 8.5 miles of track in a single day and boasted that their feat could not be matched. Charles Crocker, Central Pacific construction superintendent, was determined to beat that record, and he did. Ten miles of track were laid, in an orchestration of human labor and ingenuity as magnificent as the Pacific Railroad effort itself.

The iron rail used by the railroads came in 28-foot sections and weighed 56 pounds per yard. Eight Central Pacific tracklayers, supported by hundreds of other workers, carried all of the rail on that record-setting day. If each man carried his fair share, he hefted 123 tons between sunrise and sunset. The nation's second transcontinental telegraph was built alongside the advancing rails, which gave the railroads instant communication with their headquarters in Sacramento and Omaha.

In the spring of 1869, with the Union Pacific already in Ogden, Utah, and the Central Pacific closing in from just west of the Great Salt Lake, Congress and the two companies agreed to meet at a point equidistant between the two ends of the track. Promontory Summit became the site for the last spike just by chance. During 1869, both rail lines terminated here and travelers were obliged to change trains to complete their journey east or west.

Today, you can relive the ride to Promontory by driving the old transcontinental roadbed.

  • ISBN: 9781583691168
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Format: Paperback
  • Trim: 4" x 9"
  • Page count: 24 pages
  • Published by Western National Parks Association in 2021
  • Written in consultation with the National Park Service
  • Audience: Adults and children
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