|Promontory, Union Pacific Railroad|
The meeting of the lines of the First Transcontinental Railroad
|Locale||Box Elder County, Utah|
|Dates of operation||May 10, 1869–January, 1905|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
It is at an elevation of 4,902 feet (1,494 m) above sea level. Promontory is 32 mi (51 km) west of Brigham City, Utah and 66 mi (106 km) northwest of Salt Lake City, and north of the Great Salt Lake.
In May 1869, the railheads of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads finally met at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The ceremony to drive in the Last Spike was originally to be held on May 8, but was postponed two days because of bad weather and a labor dispute on the Union Pacific side.
On May 10, in anticipation of the ceremony, Union Pacific's No. 119 and Central Pacific's No. 60 (better known as the Jupiter) locomotives were drawn up face-to-face on Promontory Summit, separated only by the width of a single tie. It is unknown how many people attended the event; estimates run from as low as 500 to as many as 3,000 government and railroad officials and track workers who were present to witness the event. The Reverend John Todd was on hand to officiate at the ceremony. Three spikes were driven, one (and probably the most famous) was the gold spike, one was silver, and one was a mix of gold, silver, and iron. The gold spike used in the 1939 Cecil B. DeMille movie, Union Pacific depicting the event, was the same one used in 1869, on loan to DeMille by its curator, Stanford University.
Promontory Summit remained in use for 35 years. But, despite its historic importance, it was part of a large detour undertaken by the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads because of the Great Salt Lake. Union Pacific engineers had initially considered a direct route across the lake but instead opted for the surveyed line over Promontory Summit.
This changed when the Southern Pacific built a railroad trestle between Ogden and Lucin. The Lucin Cutoff, which was constructed between February 1902 and March 1904, completely bypassed Promontory Summit. After this point, rail traffic rarely used the original route. In 1942 the rails over Promontory's "Old Line" were lifted for use in World War II's war effort.
By crossing the lake, the new railroad route avoided 43 miles of curvatures and grades. In the 1950s the trestle bridge was replaced with a parallel causeway built by the Morrison Knudsen construction company. Southern Pacific continued to maintain the wooden trestle as a back-up for several decades although its last significant rail traffic was in the early 1960s.
But by the 1980s the trestle's condition had began to seriously deteriorate. Beginning in March 1993, the timber from the trestle has been salvaged and removed.
Promontory was the site of a temporary city during and shortly after the construction of the railroad, but this was then dismantled. The area has never had any permanent population. The effective meeting point of the two railroads was moved to Union Station in Ogden, Utah. Since 1957 Promontory Summit has been preserved as part of the Golden Spike National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service.
Although there is no longer a continuous railroad track running through Promontory, Utah, a 1½ mile section of track was relaid for Centennial anniversary in 1969. The NPS now operates replicas of the UP #119 and the Jupiter #60 on a seasonal basis. The original Jupiter was scrapped for iron in 1901 and No. 119 was broken up two years later. The new ones were built in California in the 1970s with $1.5 million of federal funds. These were the first steam engines constructed in the United States since the late 1950s.
- "Promontory". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- Brian Sullivan, "Day 98: Rev. John Todd," Berkshire Eagle, April 8, 2011.
- John Todd, John Todd: The Story of his Life, (Harper & brothers, 1876), 403-404.
- Internet Movie Data Base" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032080/trivia"
- "The Trestlewood Story". Trestlewood. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Promontory, Utah|
- "Producer Q&A: A conversation with Ken Verdoia, producer of "Promontory"". KUED.com.
- National Park Service: Golden Spike National Historic Site
- Pribonic, Mark A. "The Myth of the Great Railroad Meetup." Mises Daily, April 4, 2007.