We have traveled through Salt Lake City many times in our travels but we have never actually stopped and spent time there. This trip we decided to stay for a week and at the top of Lee’s To Do list was the Golden Spike National Historic Park. Located about an hour NW of Salt Lake City this park has been on Lee’s bucket list for years and I was more than happy to take a drive and check it out.
Turns out this park is one of those hidden gems in our National Park system with a great little gift shop, recreation of the trains and historic event, and an auto tour of the surrounding area. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there and and even though it was in a remote location we were joined by several other small groups.
This location is VERY remote and there is no cell coverage so make sure you have good directions in your phone prior to making the attempt. The museum part is pretty small but has some cool stuff and of course the best part is the replica trains outside were amazing. What was really cool was once again one person pushed to have this site declared a national historic park. We have seen this happen so many times and in this case it was Bernice Gibbs who began campaigning in the 1920’s. My only note is that although the Chinese contribution is acknowledged the harsh conditions and racism they faced was pretty watered down in the displays. Also please note the Golden Spike itself is not here. It is in a university in California.
The very best part was being able to stand on the exact site where the spike was put in. There are times when we get to stand in historical places (the Oregon Trail and where the Lewis and Clark trail ended are a couple that come to mind) and you literally get goosebumps. For me this was just such a spot and I wasn’t alone. Lots of grown people there were a little giddy!
The trains were really great re-creations and they even move them every night along the track. We missed that but they were running and occasionally steam would belch from one of them which scared me at one point. It was LOUD but very cool. I am not a huge train person (Lee definitely is) but even so the historical importance of this meeting made the whole site very special. Definitely worth the drive.
My only complaint about the site was the auto tour was a little confusing. We kept looking for a trestle bridge (we love those), but ultimately we learned it no longer existed. Plus the drive is divided into two different sections and the map they provided wasn’t very clear. It was neat though driving along through the places they blasted out the rock and the Chinese Arch was worth the stop to take a few pictures.
There are National Park sites in this country that you definitely have to work at to visit (Very Large Array is our all time favorite) but they are almost always totally worth it. This site was definitely remote but we loved visiting it.
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