In 1869 the nation was recovering from the effects of the Civil War, seeking to find ways to build the economy, bolster patriotism and take advantage of the scientific and mechanical advances being made like never before. One side effect of all of this was a frenzy of railroad building on both coasts and an effort to literally unite the still-damaged country. The Union Pacific Railroad was coming from the east while the Central Pacific was building from the west. They'd been getting money based on the amount of track laid and weren't being very judicious about it when President Johnson and others in Washington stepped in and gave them a completion deadline. The agreed upon point was Promontory Summit near the Great Salt Lake and on May 10 engines from both sides met and a symbolic Golden Spike was driven completing the world's first transcontinental railroad.
There's a visitor's center there now (it's a designated National Historic Site) but not much else. However, they bring out full-sized replicas of the trains (the originals were scrapped for parts around WWII) and have knowledgeable staff that share stories about the historic day. There's also a gift shop, small museum, and several informational movies that run throughout the day. It was a surprisingly delightful place to visit. Highly recommended, especially for train or history enthusiasts.
|yes, my photo is touched up a bit (ala Instagram) but the colors were nearly that vivid in real life-the trains were truly something to see!|
|the two dark dots you can almost see just below the mountains, that's about where the water line is-everything else you see in the foreground is all dry/salt|
It was definitely worth the drive and the half day or so we spent exploring. Utah, a pretty great state indeed!