Monday, April 22, 2013

Exact location where the Golden Spike was driven - Original Junction CPRR/UPRR

From: "Jim Reisdorff" railroads@windstream.net

Can anyone explain to me where the exact site of the Golden Spike was located in relation to the obelisk-shaped monument at Promontory Summit?

Explanation: Prior to abandonment in 1942 of the Promontory Branch between Corinne and Lucin, Utah, there appears to have been a main track and a side track that ran past the concrete obelisk marker at Promontory Summit which designated the site of the driving of the Golden Spike.

The two tracks through Promontory were on a roughly north-south alignment, with the obelisk situated on the east side of the two tracks. Was the side track the one closest to the monument? Or was it the main track? And which of these two tracks was actually the one where the Golden Spike had been "driven" on May 10, 1869?

On September 8, 1942, when Utah residents held a ceremony at Promontory to "un-drive" the last spike before the tracks were torn up, the ceremony was held on the second track over from the obelisk. Yet, starting in 1952, when local volunteers began holding annual re-enactments of the driving of the Golden Spike, the re-enactments were always held on the site of what had been the track immediately next to the obelisk.

So again, was the actual site of the Golden Spike located on the main track or a side track at Promontory? ...

—Jim Reisdorff, David City, Nebraska

11 Comments:

Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@att.net

The original plans for the monument are dated May, 1916. The last I heard those plans were housed at Golden Spike Historical Site. The family that lived at the site recalls that the monument was placed about half way between the section house and what was originally the Golden Hotel, later the store. Those documented items are, or were, in the University of Utah Archives. I would suggest that the questioner obtain the General Land Office map of 1886, T10N, R6W, a copy of which can be obtained from the BLM office in Great Salt Lake City.

The Central Pacific relocated the original rails between Blue Creek and Promontory Station in 1870, Crofutt's guidebook of 1874 tells of those rails being moved. The Pacific Tourist of 1876 says that tourists on the new rails could not see the junction.

The SP placed monument of 1916 has been moved.

I recall that Chuck Sweet, then the fireman on the Jupiter and 119, would wave "out there" when he would describe the original site of the monument. The Congress of 1876 asked for, and received a survey of the original meeting spot, those notes are in the National Archives, Washington, DC. I would imagine that that survey, along with the BLM map of 1886, would take a person to the exact meeting place.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

4/22/2013 11:41 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com

Southern Pacific valuation right of way and track map V-2/24 (as reproduced on p. 256 of Richard V. Francaviglia's Over the Range) shows the monument on the right side of the track (facing in the direction of increasing mile post numbers – i.e. toward Ogden) – adjacent to the main track. As of the date of that map, the side track was on the left side of the track – on the side away from the monument. This map apparently dates from the 1920s. However, I'm not sure this answers anything. Francaviglia's text on pp. 218-19 indicates that the monument was built on the side of the track opposite to an earlier sign marking the location. So, the earlier sign was apparently closer to the side track (as of the V-2/24 map). Does that mean the side track was believed to be closer to the original alignment? An 1876 Corp of Engineer's sketch map of Promontory places the junction point at a point where there was only a single track – adjacent to the coal shed, some distance east of the turntable and depot building. Given that the "last spike" junction took place on the original alignment as it was swinging from the CP's line to the UP's line, and that the UP line was subsequently abandoned in favor of the CP line, I have to wonder whether the "last spike" location was even on the exact alignment shown on even the 1876 plat. It may have been a few feet to the north. Of course, the monument is no longer where it once was – having been moved about 150' in 1968. The question is: what reference point exists today that was used as a landmark in any reference showing the original location?

—Wendell

4/22/2013 7:08 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@att.net

The U.S. Geological Survey has placed a Boundary Marker in Promontory, the marker is stamped "LAST SPIKE SITE" and shows the elevation to be 4,905 feet, N 41 degrees, 37' 5", W 112 degrees, 33' 02" ...

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

4/23/2013 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May not be accurate enough to answer the question, as one second of latitude or longitude is approximately 101.20 feet.

4/23/2013 8:53 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@att.net

If you are on site at Promontory, I suggest you follow the directions noted in House Executive Document 38, 44th Congress, Second session, February 1, 1877.

The US Army Corps of Engineers located the original meeting site thusly:

Promontory Depot is located 53 miles, 443.8 feet West of Ogden

Switch #1 is located East of the Depot, 52 miles, 4007.8 from Ogden

Switch #2 is located WEST of the Depot, at 53 miles, 707.8 (this is 264 feet WEST of the Depot.)

At 53 miles, 892.8 feet from Ogden is noted the original junction of the CPRR and UPRR

There is a third switch, located 415 WEST of the junction, at 53 miles, 1307.8 feet West of Ogden.

Watch for snakes.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

4/24/2013 9:16 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt" kylekwyatt@gmail.com

Yes, but even the National Park Service isn't completely certain exactly where the Promontory depot was ...

4/25/2013 12:31 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see:

Promontory Summit, May 10, 1869 ... by Robert L. Spude, 2005.

Cultural Landscape Report: Golden Spike National Historic Site. by C. Homstad, J. Caywood, and P. Nelson NPS #16, 2000.

4/25/2013 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

4/29/2013 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see Driving the Last Spike At Promontory, 1869 by J. N. Bowman.

4/29/2013 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see "DOT, DOT, DOT ... DONE!"

4/29/2013 12:20 PM  
Blogger dale nulik said...

if Google earth was accurate, it places the Lat,Lon site directly north of the existing visitor center on the East track, or about 800 feet closer to Ogden then the stated "original junction of the CPRR and UPRR" daleinkansas@yahoo.com

5/03/2013 10:32 PM  

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