The Golden Spike in the Transcontinental Railroad

Today we shine a spotlight on this photograph of the golden spike ceremony taken in Promontory, Utah. As school lets out and vacation begins, we’re changing up our posts for the summer. Look for these spotlights highlighting great documents, photographs, posters, and more from our holdings.

Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory, Utah

The Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869, when four ceremonial gold and silver spikes were driven into a laurel wood railroad tie at Promontory Summit, northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. This act joined 1,776 miles of rail belonging to the Union and Central Pacific railroads. The Union Pacific’s engine, 119, is on the left; the Central Pacific’s Jupiter is on the right. The ceremonial spikes and tie were removed and replaced with iron and pine.

This image of the ceremony comes from the Historical File of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Information and is stored in our Still Pictures branch at the National Archives building in College Park, Maryland.

You can find it and use it to create teaching activities on DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents.

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