National Historic Site
1957: National Historic Site
Rating (1-5): Unrated
About the SiteCompletion of the world's first transcontinental railroad was celebrated here where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met on May 10, 1869. A ceremony was held that day involving a special spruce railroad tie and apparently several spikes, including some golden and some silver and some a combination of both.
The paramount purpose of this Site is to illustrate the social, economic, and political impacts of the transcontinental railroad on the growth and westward development of the United States.
"...the paramount historical significance of the first transcontinental railroad lies in its effect upon the Far Western frontier. It made the first serious and permanent breech in the frontier, and established the process by which the entire frontier was to be demolished. As the site where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific united to inaugurate cross-country rail travel, Promontory Summit best illustrates the historical meaning, as well as the dramatic construction story, of the first transcontinental railroad."
Robert M. Utley, Special Report on Promontory Summit, Utah, February 1960.
What You're Going to SeeThere's a brick visitors center, along working replicas of the two locomotives that met that day in 1869. Also present is all the history you'd need to learn about what this railroad meant to the country not yet 100 years old, yet now connected coast to coast. There is a Junion Engineer (Ranger) program for kids ages 8-12, and a handcart ride.
Personal ObservationsI haven't been here yet, but it sounds like an interesting bit of history to explore. I think the completion of this railway was the main reason why the Pony Express only lasted 18 months; it was put obsolete by the iron horse.
Getting ThereFrom Salt Lake City, take I-15 north approximately 60 miles to exit 368. Take Highway 83 west about 25 miles and follow the signs to Promontory and the Site.
Nearby AttractionsTimpanogos Cave NM is about 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Fossil Butte NM is about 100 miles to the east, in Wyoming. City of Rocks National Reserve is about 75 miles to the northwest, just across the border in Idaho.