Top Travel Questions – Answered

Unearthing History: Tracing the Journey of the Railroad Golden Spike

Explore the Historic Golden Spike Railroad: A Journey Through Time

When it comes to iconic symbols of American history, few can rival the significance of the Golden Spike railroad. This historic artifact marks the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, a monumental engineering feat that connected the east and west coasts of the United States. Travelers and history buffs alike are often intrigued by the question: “Where is the railroad’s Golden Spike?” In this article, we will explore the fascinating story behind this legendary spike, its current location, and how you can experience a journey through time by visiting it.

The significance of the Golden Spike

The Golden Spike holds immense historical significance as it symbolizes the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The approximately 1,912-mile railroad connected the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento, California to the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha, Nebraska. This extraordinary achievement revolutionized transportation and communication in the United States, dramatically reducing travel time from coast to coast.
The Golden Spike itself is a ceremonial final spike made of solid gold. It was intended as a symbol of unity and accomplishment, representing the successful collaboration of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. The spike was driven into a laurel spike, completing the construction of the railroad and creating a lasting legacy that continues to captivate travelers and history buffs to this day.

The Original Golden Spike: Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center

The Original Golden Spike is housed in the Cantor Arts Center on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California. This prestigious institution proudly displays the Spike in a specially designed exhibit that allows visitors to experience this iconic artifact up close. The Cantor Arts Center offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the historical significance of the Golden Spike and its role in shaping the development of the United States.
Visitors to the Cantor Arts Center can also explore a wealth of other fascinating exhibits and collections, including renowned works of art from various cultures and time periods. The museum offers a comprehensive educational experience that combines art, history and culture, making it a must-see for anyone interested in the Golden Spike and beyond.

Promontory Summit: The site of the final spike ceremony

While the original Golden Spike resides at the Cantor Arts Center, the historic site of the final spike ceremony is located at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County, Utah. This remote and picturesque location is where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met and the final spike was ceremonially driven into the railroad ties. Today, the area is preserved as the Golden Spike National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service.
Visitors to the Golden Spike National Historic Site can immerse themselves in the history of the transcontinental railroad through informative exhibits, interactive displays, and ranger-led programs. The site also features replicas of the original steam locomotives, the Jupiter and No. 119, which played an integral role in the celebratory event. Exploring Promontory Summit allows travelers to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs associated with this monumental engineering feat.

The Impact of the Golden Spike on Travel

The completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad and the driving of the Golden Spike had a profound impact on travel in the United States. Prior to the completion of the railroad, traveling from coast to coast was an arduous and time-consuming journey, often taking several months. The transcontinental railroad revolutionized transportation, cutting the time it took to travel from New York to San Francisco from several months to just one week.
This groundbreaking development opened up new opportunities for trade, tourism, and migration, facilitating the growth of cities and towns along the railroad’s route. The accessibility and affordability of rail travel also brought people closer together, fostering cultural exchange and economic development across the country. The Golden Spike is a testament to the transformative power of transportation and its lasting impact on travel throughout history.

A journey through time

A visit to the Golden Spike and its associated sites offers a unique and immersive experience that allows travelers to embark on a journey through time. Whether you explore the Cantor Arts Center and view the original Golden Spike or venture to the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit, you will be transported to an era of innovation, perseverance and unity.

As you stand at these historic sites, take a moment to reflect on the remarkable achievements of those who built the transcontinental railroad and its lasting impact on the United States. The story of the Golden Spike is a testament to the power of human ingenuity and cooperation, and it continues to inspire and captivate travelers from around the world.
Plan your visit to the Golden Spike and embark on a journey that intertwines the past with the present, offering a profound appreciation for the rich history and transformative power of the Golden Spike Railroad.

FAQs

Where is the railroad Golden Spike?

The railroad Golden Spike is located at Stanford University in Stanford, California, United States.

What is the significance of the railroad Golden Spike?

The railroad Golden Spike is a historical artifact that symbolizes the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States. It marks the meeting point of the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad on May 10, 1869.

Who drove the last spike at the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad?

The last spike at the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad was driven by Leland Stanford, the president of the Central Pacific Railroad, on May 10, 1869. The spike he used was made of solid gold.

Is the railroad Golden Spike the original spike used in the ceremony?

No, the original golden spike used in the ceremony to mark the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad was a ceremonial spike made of gold. It was quickly replaced with an iron spike after the ceremony to prevent theft or vandalism. The current golden spike on display is a replica.

Can visitors see the railroad Golden Spike at Stanford University?

Yes, visitors can see the railroad Golden Spike at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. It is on display as part of the museum’s collection, and visitors can view it during the museum’s operating hours.