Sunday, May 12, 2019

Promontory Point ... DONE!



On May 10, 1869 the telegrapher sent a message at 12:47 PM.  It read DONE.  The Transcontinental Railroad was finally brought together with the last four spikes.  A gold one from California, a silver one from Nevada, a gold and silver one from Arizona and finally, another gold one from the Newspapers in San Francisco.

The first gold spike ended up in the Leland Stanford Junior University.  Nevada's spike ended up in the same location next to the gold one.  Arizona's spike somehow ended up in a museum in New York and the final one disappeared.  It is to be noted that Leland Stanford, upon his first strike of the gold spike, missed the mark.  It was finally driven in by a railroad worker.
Today, these two trains, the Jupiter owned by the Central Pacific and the 119, meet almost every day at this Promontory Point location.  
Once just an historical site, at the ceremony this May 10, it was designated a National Park with documents signed by President Trump.
The Jupiter is a beauty to be sure.  It was not Leland Stanford's first choice.  He wanted another engine The Antelope to be front and center.  Unfortunately, when going through a steep pass, the Jupiter passed the Antelope on a siding.  Someone didn't place the appropriate flag on the Antelope, and when the Jupiter steamed past, the crew let loose a large log which rolled down the mountain and hit the Antelope.  So much for planning.

We arrived at 7:30 and luckily were parked at the exact end of the boardwalk entrance.  About 8:15, they brought the trains together, but there were so many people, the only picture opportunity was back out the boardwalk and many yards away.
Here's a few of the large poster boards around the park with pictures of the railroad being build.

Here's an original of the completed project.  Notice there are no women, even though there were many following the men along the rails.
I had to have at least one picture with the golden spike!!  It was a little chilly at around 40 degrees.
At 11:00 when the celebration started, after we listened to the entire program TWO times (they really should have had their rehearsal the day before) I turned around to take a picture of the crowd.  This is NOT including all the people that were between me and the tracks.  It was an ocean of people as far as you could see.
Back behind the crowd was a small village with miners, blacksmiths, fur trappers, Indians and ...
of course gamblers.  This guy was teaching people how to play the game of faro, in case you wanted to learn.
An appropriate sign for the area, especially since our group was called Hell on Wheels.
Even the Sheriff's Department was in attendance, giving directions to the Highway Patrol.
With such a large crowd, we ended up watching the ceremonies on the big screen.  There was even a spot from the Ambassador of China.  It seems the Chinese were slighted at the last ceremony 50 years ago, so they went overboard at this one, even going so far as to bring in eight bus loads just for the occasion.  

I don't know about you, but I was taught from a very early age that the Chinese were the builders of the railroad.  At any rate, he gave a very nice speech, which is more than I can say for some of the others.  It became a political platform so to speak.
Once all the dignitaries were finished, One Productions put on a play/theatre performance of the original ceremony, complete with Leland Stanford missing the spike.
They raised the 20 star flag, appropriate for 1869 before the fireworks were exploded.
As we were walking out, I got pictures of the fireworks, but my phone (for whatever reason ... it's never done it before) locked up and refused to take a picture of the jet flyover.  This one was taken by Patti Painter.
So that was it ... the big 150th celebration.  Honestly, I was more excited about the Big Boy being brought back into service.  There's still more to come, since I missed a day here and there.  I hope you don't get tired of trains!!


  1. There were a ton of people there! That's quite a big deal! Interesting story about the trains and the spikes. Nice picture by the way, you look so little! :)
    Bill's Dad would love the story and 'his'tory'.

    1. It's pretty amazing what they did way back then, when there were no power tools or equipment!!

  2. What an amazing celebration! So glad that you cold be there and enjoyed it all. Amazing crowds and love your pictures.

    1. You just can't believe the tenacity of railroad fans. Some followed the Big Boy all the way from Cheyenne Wyoming.

  3. Wonderful Celebration for an event that change the way people lived back then and helped make way for today's mass transportation system. Lots of people at the Commemoration.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the rest of the celebration.

    It's about time.

    1. It totally changed the world. I'm fascinated by the people who can think up things like that.

  4. Nancy, were you able to wear the dress you bought months ago for this celebration?

    1. No, sadly I did not. I SHOULD have worn it in Ogden. Driving in my little Jeep with a hoop skirt turned out to be a bad idea.

  5. Very Jealous Nancy...but that was a huge crowd. Hope you are having as great of a time as it sounds.

    1. It was pretty amazing to see that many people in a crowd with no problems. Everyone was so polite!!!