Thursday, December 31, 2015

Golden Spike

We visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site with our friends on the day before Thanksgiving.  Golden Spike is at Promontory, Utah (west of Brigham City about 20 miles).  It is the site where the Central Pacific Railroads and Union Pacific Railroads met in May 1869.  When we arrived, we watched a Charlie Brown cartoon that taught us a bit about the transcontinental railroad, the Chinese workers that built it and the Golden Spike.   The children all did the Junior Ranger program, so there were a bunch of questions for them to answer/things for them to find.

 Soon after the video ended, their was a tour of the Jupiter and No. 119.  These were the two locomotives that brought dignitaries to the Golden Spike Ceremony.  Both of these locomotives are replicas of the original locomotives.  Interestingly, neither Jupiter nor No. 119 were supposed to be the locomotives that brought dignitaries to the Ceremony.  A locomotive named Antelope was supposed to pull the Central Pacific trains, but as they were headed to Utah, an accident occurred...Antelope hit a log.  The Antelope was too badly damaged to complete the journey to Promontory, so the trains were hooked up to Jupiter.  Jupiter continued to serve as a passenger locomotive until the early 1900's.  Eventually she was sold to be used as scrap metal.

 Originally the 119 was not to pull the Union Pacific trains either.  When the Vice President of the company stopped in Piedmont, Wyoming, angry workers met the train and chained it to the siding.  They had not been paid for several months and refused to let the train continue.  After two days, the money arrived to pay the workers and the Vice President continued to Promontory.  However, the Weber River had risen and the bridge was not safe to cross for the heavy Durant Special.  So the engineer gave the coaches a push and they coasted across the bridge.  Then the 119 was sent from Ogden to pick up the caoches and bring them to Promontory.  The No. 119 served as a freight locomotive until the early 1900's when she was also scrapped.
 The new replicas are used during the spring and summer but are stored and cleaned in the winter.
 The kids worked together inside and out to find the answers to the numerous questions about the Golden Spike and the transcontinental railroads.

It was a fun and informative outing.  It took a little longer to answer some of the questions than we had expected and everyone was ready to go by the time we finished, but it was fun.