Upon leaving Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, we were very disappointed to have not seen a moose, but we saw one today – in Utah, of all places. It was neat and totally unexpected!
We drove along part of the Oregon Trail Scenic Byway on our way to the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Promontory, Utah. We decided to stop there because Grant loves trains and the history around them. We got there just in time for the reenactment of the Golden Spike ceremony which was to complete the joining of the railroad tracks from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The Jupiter locomotive was already in place. We saw the 119 locomotive come up, then they re-enacted the ceremony. This was an important event because once the trains could run all the way across the country, the cost to get across the country went from taking 6 months and about $1000 to taking about a week and only $70. The original ceremony was delayed by 2 days, from May 8 1869 to May 10, because the president of one of the railroads was kidnapped by his workers after failing to pay them for 60 days. We learned that there were actually four special ceremonial spikes (two gold, one silver, and one gold and silver) that were not actually hammered into the ties, but that the actual final spike driven in was a real spike. They even reenacted the telegraph messages sent during the original ceremony.
The United States flag flying at the ceremony only had 20 stars, even though there were 37 states at the time. This was because the only flag available was a flag left over from the civil war when the country was divided. The trains almost looked like toys, they were so elaborately painted. These highly ornamental and decorative features were typical of everything, including trains, during the Victorian era. It was interesting to see the different styles of railroad ties and compare those from the east to those from the west placed by 2 different companies.
As we drove across the state of Utah, we traveled on Interstate 80, past the Great Salt Lake, then the salt flats, and then the Bonneville Speedway, where they test high speed vehicles.