A Utah Stop and The Golden Spike

Spike006Spike001Leaving Nevada we still had miles of really lonely highway ahead before finally reaching Delta, Utah and the real end of the Loneliest Highway.basin039Spike002

Spike007Spike008After having the car and the motorhome covered inside and out with dust from the desert, and the outside turning to mud while driving in the rain, it was time for a stop to do some Spring cleaning or de-deserting as Hector calls it.Spike013Spike010

Spike018Spike015So we stopped at Salt Lake City, which happens to be near the site of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.  An engineering feat concluded by driving a golden spike into the last railroad tie.Spike016Spike012Spike017

We booked a full-hookup campground, Pony Express RV Resort, for a few days. Read my review here.

mousefruit004But just before we left our remote spot in the BLM in Nevada, we realized that we had a little hitchhiker – a mouse! He had taken a bite off one of the tomatoes in our fruit bowl – yuk!

So, in addition to Spring cleaning, we emptied all of our kitchen and pantry drawers. I washed everything and went through any food that was in soft bags to make sure the mouse had not gotten into it. I then soaked cotton balls in peppermint essential oil and placed several in each of the drawers.

That night we placed our fruit bowl on top of our dining table and somehow the little rascal got to another tomato! This called for harsher methods, so we bought some “humane” traps.

cartoon-mouse-smilingThis time we put our fruit bowl in the shower, and put out the traps. That night I heard some noise  coming from the area under the sink where our garbage can sits. But we took all food garbage out every morning and evening, so there was no food there. And when we got up the next morning, one of the traps had been tripped.

We implemented our “mouse relocation plan” and walked out to a river behind our campground but there was no mouse in the trap. Yet he had left behind some “evidence” near the trap, so we were pretty sure he tripped it.

For the next week, we set out traps every night and nothing. Finally, we decided that the mouse must have left. Between getting scared from the mousetrap tripping, the very strong peppermint smell in the motorhome, and no food available he probably decided this was not a good place. Thank goodness!

So we continued our Spring cleaning inside the coach, cleaning all of the windows and little nooks and crannies.

Then it was time to head towards Yellowstone National Park where we had a reservation at one of their campgrounds. We had one extra night to divide up the drive into more a doable length.Spike021

Spike020So we added an extra stop on the first day of the drive and took a detour to see the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory, Utah, the site where the Central Pacific Railroad from the West and the Union Pacific Railroad from the East finally met to complete the transcontinental railroad.Spike029

Spike036The very educational exhibits and film bring a much greater appreciation of the back breaking work and challenges that went into the building of the railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad in particular started with the challenge of going through the Sierra Nevada Range and had to ship every rail, spike, and locomotive from the East 15,000 miles around Cape Horn. Many workers in the West were focused on gold panning, so they hired thousands of Chinese workers, who became the backbone of that railroad’s work force.Spike035

Union Pacific employed Irish, German and Italian immigrants, Civil War veterans, ex-slaves and American Indians and conflict across the groups was common.

On May 10, 1869, the two locomotives, Central Pacific’s Jupiter, and Union Pacific’s No. 119 pulled up to the one-rail gap left in the track at Promotory Summit. During the ceremony of the completion of the railroad, a golden spike was symbolically tapped, then replaced by an iron spike. The message of their completion was sent via telegraph to the entire country, and many celebrations took place.

The railroad reduced travel for individuals from six months by ox-drawn wagon to six or seven days and opened western rail trade most notably of silver, lead and copper to industries in the East.Spike033

Spike032Spike030But railroads also brought in troops and supplies to areas where Indians and whites were fighting battles. They destroyed the Indians food, shelter and livestock. Tens of millions of buffalo were killed, some to send buffalo robes and tongues east, others for mere sport, including “hunting by rail” when trains would stop alongside a herd of buffalo and hundreds of men would climb to the roofs to shoot them. The buffalo population was decimated and the Indians were driven to reservations.

We arrived at the site just prior to May 10th, when a reenactment of the locomotives and the golden spike takes place each year.Spike031

Spike037The two locomotives are exact replicas of the original built from the original plans and are taken out every day at set times. We were amazed at the intricate beauty of these locomotives, which apparently was the norm at the time.

Ours was a quick stop, but there are also self-guided walking and driving trails that provide more information about the building of the railroad.

Nonetheless, it was a very educational stop.

~ Brenda


13 thoughts on “A Utah Stop and The Golden Spike

  1. I love your blog! No matter how busy I am, I read every one as soon as I get it! I learn a lot from Brenda’s narrative, but I also groove on the wonderful pix Hector sees and captures. Dusty bottles inside an old window…would I have thought to photograph that? Probably not. Yet the photo pleases me enormously, as do almost all of them. Thanks for taking us on your fabulous walkabout! Now enjoy Alaska and come back to Tucson this winter!

    • Thank you, that is so nice to hear! We will definitely be back in Tucson this winter, probably after the New Year.

  2. Oh, those little rodent hitch hikers are so hard to catch! We had one tag along from Texas to Louisianna. Luckily, hubby caught him in a trap the first night. Glad yours is gone!

    What a great place to stop for a short visit. Really enjoyed reading about the railroad. Those engines are beautiful.

    We love it when we find something interesting to see along the way when we are traveling. Sometimes we discover something worth visiting in the most unlikely place! Safe Travels!

    • Thanks, this is our second time, the first left after building a little nest in our basement.

      The locomotives were really stunning. Unlikely places can sure be the best!
      Safe travels to you!

  3. Enjoying your blog .. You do a great job describing your adventures and providing photos!! Wishing you continued safe, mouseless travels!!

  4. I traveled “The Loneliest Highway” back in the mid-1970s, and truly believed at the time that it was appropriately named. But you have given me new eyes for it, as you do regarding everywhere you visit and share with us, who are traveling vicariously through you.
    Just this past Sunday, in The Denver Post newspaper, was a short snippet I will share with you and your readers about the Golden Spike.
    “Colorado Curator Challenges Golden Spike Legacy: Utah has long celebrated the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the town of Promontory, when a golden spike was driven into the tracks in 1869.
    “But a Colorado museum curator is challenging that legacy, arguing the railroad wasn’t completed until the next year in Strasburg (Colorado).
    “Cliff Smith is the curator at Strasburg’s Comanche Crossing Museum. Smith says the rail line running through Utah had a gap in Omaha. No bridge crossed the Missouri River, and passengers had to disembark and cross the river in a ferry before getting back on another train.
    “Smith says the first transcontinental railroad was actually completed in Strasburg in 1870.
    “The Comanche Crossing Museum commemorates that link, and Smith says he hopes it will one day win recognition from the National Park Service.” (The Associated Press)
    As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now we know the REST of the story!”
    Safe travels and give that fluffy Angel a hug from Scott, Mary and Gracie.

    • Now THAT is a great historical tidbit! Love it. Hwy 50 was lonely indeed. Miles and miles of not a single structure to be seen. I can only imagine what it must be like to live in one of those tiny towns that stand as small islands way out there in the Great Basin. Miss you guys! glad you are following along with us. It keeps us connected in a small way …

  5. On the move!!!! Wow. You remind us of what a lovely world it is and of how endlessly infinite are the possibilities of where we live, how we live and what we do!

    Quick update on the kids. Veronicca has been home since we returned from Chile and Argentina with her and has decided on Notre Dame this fall. She’s working here for living $ there until she leaves in August. Zac graduates next weekend so we head up for those festivities. He has a job back in the Denver area. Two down, one to go!!!! 🙂 Kayla is finishing a week with a polysci class in DC and returns home tomorrow. She’ll work for the Mile High Youth Corps this summer. Soooooo, we, too, will be living differently: with all three kids home again!!! It’s been years since we’ve been that … full … and are, really, looking forward to some crazy fun!

    We think of you often, talk about you sometimes, and wish you fun, safe journeys always, Friends! Love you!!!

    PS – Mouse story = gross! Every now and then I see one in our garage… UGH!

    • Talk about on the move! Sounds like Chez Solis is going to be rockin this summer 🙂 Thanks for the update on your amazing “kids”. A big congrats to Zac Joe … Love you guys! H&B (and Angel too)

  6. Glad to hear you eradicated those little hitchhikers. I am guessing cotton balls and peppermint may not be as effective as I hoped. That is what I used in our 5th-wheel before we left in the truck camper for the summer. Those locomotives are fabulous. We may have to add this stop to our ever-growing list.

    • I’ve heard the peppermint hasn’t worked for others, but I think it might have helped a bit. But we also left no food available anywhere for them. So happy he/they are gone.

      It’s a bit of a ways to the Golden Spike but very interesting – check the times the locomotives are out before you go though – we didn’t but were lucky. Our list keeps growing too 🙂

  7. It is so nice to finally learn the origination of the “Golden Spike Award” from so many years ago. Congrats on your discovery!

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