About The Golden Spike

The Ceremony of May 10, 1869

On May 10, 1869, a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad was held at Promontory, Utah. Union Pacific Engine No.119 and Central Pacific No. 60 (known as the Jupiter) locomotives were brought face-to-face on Promontory Summit, separated by the width of one railroad tie. Government and railroad officials and track workers witnessed the event which included the driving of the "golden spike," the final railroad spike that ceremoniously completed the momentous project.

The Golden Spike

The golden spike was made of 18 karat gold. The spike was inserted into a pre-drilled hole in a laurel wood tie brought from California and gently tapped into place by a silver spike maul made especially for the occasion. Three other precious metal spikes were also brought to the ceremony: a gold spike made with a less amount of gold, a silver spike and a composite spike made with gold, silver and iron. A gold spike, like the one brought to Promontory, if hit by a maul, would turn into a small lump of gold as gold is too soft a metal to withstand such a blow. The spike is now housed at the Cantor Arts Center at the Stanford University.

A Media Event--Telegraph

The driving of the golden spike is considered by many to be the first nationwide media event in the United States because it used the relatively new technology of telegraph to instantly spread the news across the country. When the spikes were driven the single word "done" was sent by telegraph and newspapers across the country reported the events in headlines. Another medium, the U.S. Mail, immediately contracted with the railroads to provide overland carriage. Because of the railroad, the travel time from New York to San Francisco would eventually be days rather than months

Join This Is The Place Park for a celebration of the driving of the Golden Spike, May 10, 2007 at the park:
This Is The Place Heritage Park (http://www.thisistheplace.org/)

Visit the Official web site of the Golden Spike National Park:
http://www.nps.gov/gosp/
http://www.nps.gov/archive/gosp/home.html