The Golden Spike National Historical Site has been a Utah staple since the first Transcontinental Railroad finished 1869. The site has been a cause for celebration, but also some controversy.

The last strike and first ceremony

On May 10, 1869 workers drove the golden spike into the last piece of rail connecting the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, creating the first Transcontinental Railroad.

The Deseret News covered the event, publishing nearly a full page "programme" of the day’s festivities. Speakers included sixth Governor of the Utah Territory Charles Durkee, Promontory Mayor D.H. Wells and two judges.

The events were reflected in another almost-full page article the next day.

Golden spike driven again 100 years later

In 1969 the golden spike turned 100 and a reenactment of the "wedding of the rails" was the headline for the Deseret News.

Much like the ceremony 100 years earlier, high profile members of the community were in attendance, including Governor Calvin L. Rampton and President Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The 10,000 person celebration was so large no private vehicles were allowed to enter the area because officials worried the small roads would be congested. Instead, there was public parking at Thiokol and 32 shuttle buses transported the crowds to the ceremony.

A challenge to the golden spike

Hans Koepsell, Deseret News

In a May 2015 report by John Hollenhorst, residents in the small town of Strasburg, Colorado contended that Promontory Summit was not the location of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Members of the Comanche Crossing Museum said the lack of a bridge on the Mississippi River disqualified the line — riders would have to get off of a train and cross the river on the ferry, before boarding a different train to complete their journey.

According to museum curator Cliff Smith, the golden spike ceremony was a political ploy by then-President Ulysses S. Grant.

As the Golden Spike approaches 150 years, reenactments become an annual party

John Hollenhorst, Deseret News

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An article by R. Scott Loyd covered the now-annual reenactment of the rails-joining last year.

The festivities included colorful steam engines, costumes, a speech by BYU professor Fred E. Woods and a singing of "Happy Birthday" to the track.

Woods said the railroad was important to the nation — shortening the trip coast to coast from several months to a week.

"I pay tribute to the collective calloused hands, aching arms, strained backs and blistered feet of the men who leveled the path and laid the rails under unrelenting circumstances," he said. "Regardless of size or strength, these diverse human beings linked rails that tied the nation together and prospered the whole."

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