Ceremonies on Laying the Last Rail

The Weekly Arizonan/June 5, 1869

Promontory Summit, May 10, The morning was most auspicious. At 7 a.m. the superintendent of the telegraph company hoisted the Stars and Stripes at the terminus of the Central Pacific track.

The Union Pacific Railroad closed the gap of the half a mile in their track, leaving but the space to be filled by the last rail. At 9 a.m. the  first passenger train of the Union Pacific railroad arrived at this point, coming within a rail’s length of the Central Pacific track. The train consisted of one sleeping car and one passenger car, bringing about 30 passengers. At 11:30 the President’s train moved to the front, drawn by the fine locomotive Jupiter—appropriate name—gaily decorated with flags and streamers. George Booth is engineer and Eli Foster conductor of the train. The enthusiasm is great and still increasing. At least 2,000 persons will meet in mid desert, and warm and earnest greetings are being exchanged between all, for the event makes even strangers friends.

Hon. F.A. Tritle of Nevada offered the silver spike with the following sentiment: “To the iron of the east and gold of the west Nevada adds her link of silver to span the continent and wed the oceans.”

Hon. A.P.K. Safford presented a spike of iron, silver and gold, an offering from Arizona, with the sentiment: “Ribbed with iron, clad in silver and crowned with gold, Arizona presents her offering to the enterprise that has banded the continent and made clear a pathway to commerce.”

Mr. Harkness presented the golden spike from California, with a few sublime remarks. He said—in brief: “The last rail needed to complete the greatest railroad enterprise of the world is about to be laid; the last spike needed to unite the Atlantic and Pacific by a new line of travel and commerce is about to be driven to its place. To perform these acts, you, the East and the West have come together. Never, since history commenced her record of human events, has she been called upon to note the completion of a work so magnificent in conception, so marvelous in execution. California, within whose borders and be whose citizens the Pacific Railroad was inaugurated, is desirous to express her appreciation of the vast importance to her and her sister States of the great enterprise which, by your joint action, is about to be consummated. From her mines of gold she has forwarded a spike—from her laurel woods she has hewn a tie; by the hands of her citizens she offers them to become a part of the great highway which is about to unite her in close fellowship with her sisters of the Atlantic. From her bosom was taken the first rail—let hers be the last tie and the last spike. With them accept the hopes and wishes of her people that the success of your enterprise may not stop short of its brightest promise.”

(Source: Library of Congress, “Chronicling America,” http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024829/1869-06-05/ed-1/seq-2/#words=golden+Gold+gold+Union+Rail+rail+Pacific+spike+railroad+Railroad&date1=06%2F04%2F1869&rows=20&searchType=advanced&proxdistance=10&state=Arizona&date2=06%2F06%2F1869&ortext=gold+golden+rail+road+union&proxtext=pacific+railroad&phrasetext=&andtext=spike+&dateFilterType=range&index=0)