Two steam engines, the Jupiter and the 119, face nose to nose on the railroad tracks at Promontory Summit, Utah, for the anniversary celebration of the Transcontinental Railroad’s completion.
BY ANNA LEE AMES FROHLICH
As soon as I heard it was being planned, I dreamed about touching a moment in history by being present at the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the placing of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, SPIKE150.
I was able to be there to witness a very special event. It was announced that the Golden Spike National Historical Site is now the Golden Spike National
Historical Park. I was representing the historically minded Villager newspaper, Arapahoe Co. CO, with my cousins Fred and Henry Ames from MA and my friend Wallie Robinson, another historian from CO.
We Ames were there because of our relationship to Oakes and Oliver Ames, who were essential in the creation of the Union Pacific Railroad.
Oakes was the chief financier, and Oliver was President of the road while it was being built. They had not been there for the driving of the spike because they were in Boston figuring out how to pay off the debts of the railroad.
Ultimately, they were successful. We felt that we were representing Oakes and Oliver from a different century.
The first day’s activities took place at the Ogden Union Station. When we arrived, Engine 844 was waiting for us.
The 844 is referred to as the “Living Legend.” It gave a demonstration of steam and a whistle. We were warned to plug our ears. After a while, “Ballad of Big Boy” was played, and with slow and mighty grandeur, Engine #4014 came ‘round the bend and stopped nose to nose with the 844.
The theme for the weekend was remembering the Chinese workers who had worked on the railroad coming west to east, the Central Pacific. To here to hear the ballad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wis5X4D4Ips
A crowd gathered for the 150th anniversary of the placing of “the Golden Spike” at Promontory Summit, Utah, where the Transcontinental Railroad was completed.
They worked under dangerous conditions and many lives were lost. The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association was at the festival representing the descendants of these workers. I met two women who were there with this group. Regina, Jeanette, and I found a commonality in our reasons for being there and developed an affection for each other. Their ancestors worked hard physically on the Central Pacific. Mine worked on the Union Pacific in an administrative sense. Both groups were working toward the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
After a short time, I found myself surrounded by Chinese with cameras. On the second day, we were at Promontory Summit with a group of about 25,000 people. We were able to arrive early, at 6:30 A.M., get close-in parking and great seats along some old raised railroad tracks. The show started with two engines coming from the east. The Jupiter came backwards and the 119 from Union Pacific forwards so that they ended up facing each other.
We were entertained by dancers telling a tale and youngsters in a choir from across the state. The engines were steaming, and all of a sudden, there must have been steam coming from my ears because they announced that Thomas Durant was the President of the Union Pacific. Oliver Ames filled that position and Durant and Oliver were each other’s nemesis.
Fred fought his way to the front with little chance of penetrating the wall of humanity. Tech-savvy Henry was able to send a text message that appeared to clear up this misunderstanding, and Oliver Ames was reinstated as President of the UP. There were several spikes driven at the original occasion made of a variety of materials. The gold spike was the best known. There was a mock ceremony of driving the spikes at SPIKE150.
Speakers came next. It seemed to us that the most relevant and upbeat one was Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. She is the first Asian-American woman ever appointed to the President’s cabinet in American history. The theme for the day was “As One.” Henry saw this as the coming together of peoples. Fred thought of the trains coming together as a symbol of the country being connected. Abraham Lincoln had seen the eventual connection of the tracks in much the same way.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |