October 3, 2010

First Transcontinental Railroad Golden Spike Reenactment

We have been hiking and sightseeing in Utah the past few days. We were fortunate to see some spectacular fall color in the Wasatch Range and to witness a reeenactment of the First Transcontinental Railroad Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory  Summit, Utah (note it is not Promontory Point, as I learned today.)
I put together a short video showing the engines moving into position and photos of the reeanactors performing the ceremony. I took many other still photos and will post them later, but for now check out the video for sounds and live action of the replica Central Pacific 60 Jupiter and Union Pacific 119. These engines are replicas built to operate like the real engines. Jupiter is a wood burner and 119 is a coal burner.

I learned a lot about these period engines thanks to information provided by the locomotive engineers Ron Wilson and Steve Sawyer. They might be two of the luckiest guys around as their job is to drive and keep these beautiful machines running.

Why the two tracks? The two railroads could not agree on a meeting point, so they both continued building right past each other, sometimes even crossing over each other, for 250 miles! It took the US Congress to pick a meeting point.

Jon Gant offered the following additional information,
"The two engines were built from scratch at a cost of $750,000 for the pair. Out of "service" they are stored in an enginehouse built especially for them.  Lots of data, drawings, history, etc., are available on these locos.

The re-enactment is scheduled regularly by a group of volunteers from nearby Ogden and the surrounding area. Some are members of the Golden Spike Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, which met in the region several years ago. The Chapter home is in Ogden. The Site is operated and managed by the National Park Service.

1 comment:

  1. Neat! But, talk about tooting your own horn, or whistle as the case may be... that UP guy was a bit too happy with that stinkin' thing!
    I hope to be out to visit the site in July of '11!