The Union Pacific Railroad Golden Spike event of 1869 marked a significant milestone in American history. This monumental occasion symbolized the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, connecting the east and west coasts of the United States. The driving of the golden spike brought together the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad, signifying the unification of a vast nation and opening up new possibilities for commerce and travel.
I. The Golden Spike Event of 1869:
The Golden Spike event of 1869 took place on May 10th at Promontory Summit, Utah. The Central Pacific Railroad, coming from the west, and the Union Pacific Railroad, advancing from the east, had been tirelessly constructing their respective tracks for years, overcoming daunting challenges like harsh weather, rugged terrain, and labor shortages. The two railroads had finally met at Promontory Summit, creating the first continuous rail link from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
The final moment of triumph occurred when a symbolic golden spike was driven into the last connecting tie, ceremoniously joining the tracks of the two railroads. This golden spike, made of 17.6-karat gold, was provided by David Hewes, a San Francisco businessman. The event was celebrated with fervor as telegraph messages were sent to various cities across the country, spreading the news of this historic achievement.
II. Why Was the Golden Spike Removed?:
The golden spike was a powerful and symbolic representation of the unity achieved through the completion of the transcontinental railroad. However, its presence on the tracks was short-lived. Contrary to popular belief, the golden spike was not removed maliciously or with ill intent.
The golden spike served its ceremonial purpose on May 10, 1869, and was promptly removed after the event. The spike was taken down to protect it from potential vandalism or theft. Given its immense historical value and the fact that it was made of real gold, it was essential to ensure its preservation and safekeeping.
Shortly after the ceremony, the golden spike found its way into the possession of Stanford University, where it became a treasured artifact in their collection. The spike was later displayed at the Cantor Arts Center on the university’s campus, where it can be appreciated by the public to this day.
III. Legacy of the Golden Spike Event:
The driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit was a monumental moment in American history that transformed the nation’s landscape. The transcontinental railroad significantly reduced travel time and costs for both passengers and goods, boosting commerce, industry, and immigration.
Moreover, the event symbolized the unification of a diverse nation, bringing together people from different backgrounds and cultures, and fostering a sense of national pride and identity. It strengthened the ties between the eastern and western states, contributing to the economic growth and development of the entire country.
The Union Pacific Railroad Golden Spike event of 1869 remains an enduring symbol of unity, determination, and progress. Its impact on American society, economy, and culture is immeasurable, and its memory continues to inspire generations as they reflect on the remarkable achievement of connecting a vast nation through steel and gold.