Golden Spike Re-enactment at Promontory, Utah
If you’re anywhere near Salt Lake on Sunday, this is worth the trip. The Golden Spike — which famously completed the first transcontinental railroad — celebrates its anniversary, May 10, 1869-May 10, 2009. Replica steam locomotives (fully operating) join a troupe of re-enactors to relive (or at least re-envision) the spectacle of railroad executives who couldn’t hit the spike when they swung at it, the general revelry of drunken Irish track-builders, and the moment made famous by the photograph of champagne bottles being passed by the crew on one engine from one side of the country to the crew aboard the engine from the other.
The event includes period music, and hey, what could be more acoustic roots-Americana than that?
It’s a quirk of history that the event happens on the exact site where it did originally. The original transcontinental railroad line was moved onto a wooden trestle, and later a causeway, directly across the Great Salt Lake, enabling the mountainous line north of the lake to be abandoned in the 1920s. The National Park Service re-laid the line in the 1960s, in time for the centennial, and there’s been an annual re-enactment ever since. And this year being a substantial anniversary, expect ‘em to do it up right.
Of course, I’ll write about it when I get back. If you go, look me up! (But I’m not online at all while I’m gone on this one. I’m headed for 1869!)
Details and schedules at www.nps.gov/gosp and it’s all free, with even the usual admission fee waived.