Making her grand entrance. Charging toward stage center at the Golden Spike National Historical Park, UP 119 makes her grand entrance in front of what was likely the largest crowd she's ever seen....on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Behind her, you can seen the endless line of traffic on Golden Spike Road, waiting to enter the parking lots.
Mostly due to its remoteness....it's 25 miles from the nearest gas station....the Golden Spike National Historical Park is probably one of the least-visited sites that the National Park Service Operates, yet it arguably commemorates one of the most important events in American History. Park Rangers tell me that the park typically does a formal re-enactment of the Last Spike Ceremony every Saturday between May and August. They indicated that on a good day, they might have 30 people in attendance. Getting clean photos of the ceremony is not a problem....most of the time. Normally, a few, simple wooden benches are positioned just south of the last spike site, to allow the few visitors a chance to take a load off their feet while they watch the proceedings. On this special day however, the park probably broke every existing record, including the attendance at the 125th anniversary, which I believe was around 14,000. On May 10th of 2019, attendance was likely more like 20,000. Gone were the simple wooden benches. A large stage was erected at the site, complete with huge speakers, a "Jumbotron" video screen, an orchestra pit, and all manner of media equipment, including fixed TV cameras and one on a giant boom. On May 10th, the last spike site looked more like an outdoor rock concert than it did the ceremony which occurred there so long ago. Although it wasn't a particularly railfan-friendly event, it was a fitting party to celebrate an event which facilitated every aspect of the modern society we have today.
Consider this: In 1869, people of European and African descent had been in this country for 250 years, yet it was still a primitive society. People still lived in wooden structures, the lighted their homes with oil lamps and they cooked over open fires. The traveled largely on foot or on horseback. Just 34 years later, Orville & Wilbur Wright were flying at Kitty Hawk. 100 years and 2 months after Promontory, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the moon. Think about that!