Golden Spike NHS

My very first stop in Utah was Golden Spike National Historic Site. So, I’ve never been a big history buff and personally had no idea what this was at all (even though I’m sure I learned about it in a history class at some point).

For those clueless like me, this is where the United States officially made the very first Transcontinental Railroad, by uniting two railroad companies separate tracks.



The Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad were each building from the east and west coasts, respectfully. The Central Pacific Railroad build from Sacramento to Promontory and had 690 miles of track. The Union Pacific Railroad built from Omaha to Promontory and had 1,086 miles of track.

The last spike is where the two railroad companies met their tracks to create the first transcontinental railroad, on May 10th, 1869.


  • 4 parts to a railroad track
    • Rail – Guides the train’s wheels (metal rails)
    • Fishplate – Connects the rails together (metal to connect rails)
    • Tie – Supports the rail (wood under rails)
    • Spikes – Holds the rails to the ties (go into rood near rails)
    • Ballast – Keeps the ties in place (material under rails between ties)
  • Arizona Iron-Silver-Gold Spike
    • engraved with “Ribbed with iron clad silver and crowned with gold Arizona presents her offering to the enterprise that has banded a continent and dictated a pathway to commerce. Presented by Governor Safford.”
  • The Second Gold Spike
    • weighing 9.5 oz, valued at $200
    • original spike engraved after the ceremony, “With this spike the San Francisco News Letter offers its homage to the great work which has joined the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans”
  • Nevada Silver Spike
    • “To the iron of the East and the gold of the West Nevada adds her link of silver to span the continent and wed the oceans…”
  • The Last Spike
    • 17.6 carat gold, weighing 18 ounces, valued at $350 (in 1869)
    • Presented by David Hewes of San Francisco


In terms of “beauty” of a park there are different reasons for each park or site. This site is for the cultural and historic value it brings. They have done a wonderful job at preserving and explaining this site. As a side note, the Junior Ranger book was one of the hardest to date.

And of course, my picture of my Jr. Ranger badge and souvenirs!

NEXT TIME at Golden Spike: I would like to be there when they have the replica trains that were at the original ceremony and they will do a reenactment.