This is the place where our nation’s East and West were joined forever by a transportation link. For the very first time one could travel from New York to San Francisco over land. This was huge! And it lead to gigantic social, political, environmental changes that affected the whole world.
This site is just North of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. We actually found it difficult to locate. It is marked from some directions by some pretty old signs and leads you down some secondary roads that go nowhere else. This place that sparked wild celebration coast to coast is kind of an afterthought now in the middle of nowhere.
But what a great job the park service does! The site features replicas of the original two locomotives that met at Promontory Summit May 10, 1869. The locomotives are gleaming, fully operational steam engines. As on that day the Central Pacific locomotive arriving from the West burns wood and the Union Pacific from the East burns coal.
The staff and volunteers make the visit great for everyone. The park service film is a perfect overview of the story. Volunteers have come from as far away as Australia to help the staff. It is an amazing story we read in Stephen Ambrose’s book “Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built The Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869”.