After two nights of camping, near Pendleton, Oregon, and Glenns Ferry, Idaho, we made our first tourist stop at the Golden Spike National Historic Site.
When the Central Pacific and Union Pacific met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, it was in the middle of nowhere. It still is. The site is surrounded by a whole lotta empty, though you do pass a NASA rocket-building facility with rockets on display on your way
in from the north.
It was bitter cold, so we didn’t spend a lot of time at the actual meeting point, which looks a lot like any other section of track. There are no golden spikes here. There were actually four spikes. The main one is in a museum at Stanford University.
There is a pillar that was placed here in 1916 to commemorate the completion of the railroad. It has been restored and stands just outside the entrance to the visitors center.
The coolest things might be the two steam locomotives, replicas of the two engines that met in 1869. The Jupiter (No. 60) represented the Central Pacific and No 119, the Union Pacific. The Jupiter burns wood; No. 119, coal, reflecting the differing resources of west and east. The replicas were built in the 1970s.
During the summer the locomotives are in use every day, but this time of year they are inside the engine house undergoing maintenance.
The site has hiking trails, but it was much too cold, and auto tours, but we didn’t have time.
From here we headed for Salt Lake City, where we’ll spend a couple of nights in an Airbnb to escape the single-digit temperatures.