A lot of people don't know about the Golden Spike. I only really know about it because I am deeply geeky. Anyway, it has been described as the 19th Century version of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. It was that big of a deal.
Still don't know what it is? In a nutshell, it was the meeting point between two major railroads, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, who were tasked with bridging the North American continent and making it possible to travel from New York to San Francisco completely by rail, and therefore avoiding that pesky trip around Cape Horn or worse-travelling overland facing months of toil and possible death to visit the other side of the country. When the two railroads met near Promontory Summit, Utah in May of 1869, dignitaries ceremonially drove a railroad spike made of gold into the last tie uniting the railroads. The importance of the Golden Spike cannot be underestimated. It ushered in a new age in communication and commerce that would float this country into the 20th Century and later make it a great economic power. It also hastened the demise of the native population's way of life and later subjugation to the American (European) Way of Life.
When I first looked at my proposed route and noticed this place was on the way, I was inwardly jumping for joy. You may know that I'm a transportation aficionado, and the Age of Railroads is one of my romantic escapes. Also, years of playing Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon and watching Hell on Wheels on Netflix didn't hurt either. But later, as I was driving around the Great Salt Lake I realized that this place is also another symbol of one of my themes of this project: connectivity. In the 19th Century America linked its commercial thoroughfares by rail, cutting a trip from New York to San Francisco from months to what would be under a week. In the 20th Century we saw the rise of highways and interstates which opened up new tracks of real estate to commerce. Much later we had the internet, and its opening up of virtual real estate.
Our next great leap should be (please!) greater access to the internet, even making it a straight utility that all citizens can have equal access to. I've talked to many librarians along the way and a lot of them have come up with this idea independently of each other. I know first hand what a boon it would be to this country to have equal and consistent access to the 'net. This has happened before. We can do this.
Gallery below: A.) a replica of the Golden Spike flown with the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1990. B.) An original poster proclaiming the union of the railroads celebration. C. and D.) A replica of Jupiter, the engine that the Central Pacific sent for the event with its dignitaries. E. and F.) Union Pacific #119, the engine the Union Pacific sent. G.) A model diorama of the event. (That one is for you Model Train Crazies out there. You know who you are.) H.) A glass bottle left from one of the hell on wheels towns (temporary lodgings set up for the railroad workers as they moved across the country). This bottle of "Injection Brou 102 Rue Richelieu Paris" was supposed to fight infections "incurred while fraternizing with women of the evening". I.) Outside where the scene took place. They hold events there now sometimes. J.) The evolution of steel rails, once again for you geeks out there.