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“The last rail is laid. The spike is driven. The Pacific Railroad is completed.” Here at Promontory, Utah at 12:47 p.m. on May 10, 1869 the driving of a golden spike completed the first transcontinental railroad climax of a dramatic railroad-building race between the Union Pacific building from the east and the Central Pacific building from the west. This event symbolized attainment of a long sought goal – a direct transportation route to the Pacific Ocean and the China trade and it achieved the great political objective of binding together by iron bonds the extremities of continental United States. A rail link from ocean to ocean.”

Located at Golden Spike National Historical Park at Promontory, Utah.

The Southern Pacific Monument

An Icon Restored

In 1954, the National Park Service assumed ownership of the aging monument, which had been damaged by years of weathering and vandalism. The interior had also been severely damaged by ground water that had wicked up into the monument through its buried base. Early restoration attempts unintentionally contributed to the damage by using materials that did now allow for evaporation of water trapped inside the monument. Based on state of the art technology, the National Park Service began a new repair process in 2001.

  • Removing the concrete monument from the ground to prevent further moisture absorption and allowing it to dry.
  • Transferring the monument to its present location.
  • Replacing old stucco, paint, and patches with a new breathable masonry coating.
  • Protecting the monument through regularly scheduled maintenance.

Significance of the Monument

In 1916, the Southern Pacific Railroad (formerly the Central Pacific Railroad) placed the monument near the site where the nation’s first transcontinental railroad was completed. For decades, it stood there, a lonely reminder of the driving of the last spike on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. Today, the handsomely restored monument remains an icon of westward expansion, the settlement of northern Utah and commemorates an historic event that transformed America.