Sunday, August 4, 2013

East Met West at Promontory Point - Utah

Last weekend we took a day trip from Hill AFB near Ogden, Utah to Promontory Point.  Over the last four years of our Roadrunner adventure, I have been struck by the influence and impact of the railroads upon our United States.

In 1869 at a then-unknown place upon the high desert in the wide open prairie - East met West and our country was joined together by the railroad.  It changed everything.  What had taken six months by ox and mule, now only took six days by rail.

Troops and settlers sped west populating the country side which belonged to the Indians and buffalo.  Trade and cities sprang up and expanded commerce and the push for Manifest Destiny.  The wealth of ore and minerals and hides and fur moved East.  And the West became our Territories and States.

The idea to connect the country from coast to coast was first proposed in 1832.  Thirty-seven years later it happened when the locomotives of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific met nose to nose at Promontory Point.

We drove out to the Promontory Point Historical Center, leaving in the middle of the morning and arriving a little after 11:00.  It was fairly easy to find and a nice drive out there, though a little drizzly at times.
It was definitely 'out there'.  Like the middle of no where.

As we approached the turnoff and the last mile or so over to the Visitor Center, we were very surprised.  There must have been a hundred people doing the same thing we were!
For a few minutes it was crowded at this little outpost.  Near the entrance is a historical marker commemorating the Golden Spike, which was ceremoniously driven in, completing the coast-to-coast railroad.
And there was a lot going on.  The Visitor Center had a historical video running, and there the museum had some interesting artifacts.
We learned the workforce from the Central Pacific which left Sacramento was comprised in a large part of over 10,000 Chinese.  The Union Pacific left Omaha and had a mix of American unemployed along with Italian, Irish and German workers.

The Central Pacific's Jupiter and the Union Pacific's No. 119 met at Promontory Point on May 10, 1869.  Replica's of the two locomotives are the central attraction.
We were able to climb the stands and peer over into the engine and coal room of each one.
Then we gathered for festivities.  
The park ranger talked about the locomotives while they went through some drills.
 Both locomotives were fired up and went up and down the track.  Quite impressive!
We as the Jupiter was loaded with wood and No. 119 was loaded with coal.  They got the fires burning and away they went.    Then they returned to their resting place and went through a re-enactment of the ceremonies that happened in 1869.
Quite a few showed up in costume.

And the ceremonies centered around driving the Golden Spike signaling the completion of the railroad.
You can the railroad tie on the tracks
And there is another display inside in the museum
Engraving on the Golden Spike reads:

May God continue the Unity of our Country as this 
Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the World.

Together, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, laid over 1,776 miles of track through mountains, desert  and prairie.  It was quite a feat.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  And thanks for those comments - we appreciate them.  Until next time...


  1. That was nice to see, Randy. I was there back in 1963, and then once again in 1971. don't remember much at all about it from those visit, however. Thank you! Now when we go back through Utah I'll know to check it out.

    1. Hey Sue! Nice to hear from you. Thanks for the comment! Looks like they have updated it and have quite an interesting weekend programs even though it is way out of the way out there. I noticed they even have RV hookups near the visitor center for RVers who want to volunteer.

  2. Nice tour! We were there a few years ago. It is one of those historical must see places.

    1. Yes! We were glad we took the time to see the country side on our way out there. Definitely a different look. And then the activities and events on display. Thanks again for the comment! I appreciate it.

  3. For whatever reason we never did go out there in the 8 years we were in SLC. Will have to remedy that. I'll be interested in your impressions of Hill AFB. It was hubby's first assignment and we fondly remember staying in the concrete pilot's bunker near the runway for a few nights because the inn was full. Hope to camp at Hill when we spend time in the west.

    1. Hill AFB has a lot going on! As one of the major aircraft maintenance depots in the country, it is a busy place. Plus they have an active wing there with flying operations. The FamCamp is a good one that is near the base Gym and it has full hookups and laundry at the campground. I think you will enjoy it. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Another must see item for our Idaho trip, thanks for the tour. I also thank you for the FamCamp assessment, sounds like a Go.