On May 10, 1869, there were actually four commemorative spikes (made of both silver and gold) to celebrate completing the monumental task to lay 1,776 miles of track connecting Sacramento and Omaha, linking west to east. In front of a crowd of thousands that gathered at Promontory Point in Utah, Leland Stanford, President of the Central Pacific Railroad, missed when attempting to drive the final spike.
Replica train engines, museum, film, Chinese Arch
Thanks to the National Park Service, each day in the summer you can see working replicas of two steam engines, burning wood and coal, come together for a daily photo op. It took some effort just to figure out where the junction occurred, since it was moved by 1870, in 1904 a shorter causeway was built across the Great Salt Lake, and during World War II the track here was ripped up.
Big Fill Loop Trail (1.5 miles) leads to a ravine filled by hand to create a gentle grade for the trains. Two unpaved auto tours (2 and 14 miles) follow the rail route, with the highlight stop being the natural limestone Chinese Arch.
The Central Pacific Railroad’s locomotive Jupiter and the Union Pacific’s No. 119 are both beautiful reproductions, but they only run between May and mid-October. Please note that you are not allowed to mush pennies on the train tracks but they do have a 51-cent mushed penny machine inside the visitor center.
Summer, but also May 10 annually (especially in 2019, the 150th anniversary)
$10 per vehicle or free with America The Beautiful pass
The main road to the visitor center is paved, but the two auto tour routes follow graded dirt roads.
None within the park, but Hyrum Lake State Park, Willard Bay State Park, and Box Elder Campground (U.S. Forest Service) are located near Brigham City, Utah.
Explore More – How many miles of parallel grades did the two greedy companies (that got paid by the mile) lay out before Congress stepped in to establish Promontory Summit as the official meeting place?