Northern Utah will host a sesquicentennial celebration to honor the completion of the transcontinental railroad and the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit. May 9-11, Ogden City and Box Elder County will welcome hundreds of thousands of history buffs, train enthusiasts, railroad executives and interested community members to Northern Utah to honor the 150th anniversary of this iconic event.
“The history of Ogden has long been tied to the railroad. As it was once said ‘You can't go anywhere without stopping in Ogden,’” stated Sarah Singh, Weber State University Special Collections Curator. “The railroad brought jobs, ethnic diversity, tourists and changed the landscape of Ogden in a variety of ways. Without the rail lines, the federal government wouldn't have poured so much money into Northern Utah during World War II. So even 150 years later, the railroad still impacts Ogden and the surrounding areas."
In preparation for this celebration, Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature created and funded the special “Spike 150” commission to organize a celebration that, in Herbert’s words, will help the state “party like it’s 1869.” A $1 million appropriation from the legislature was matched by Union Pacific Railroad for the events. Community leaders and organizations have been diligently working to plan special events for both dignitaries and local citizens alike.
“We are excited to work with the city, county and state to plan the sesquicentennial celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad,” said Sara Toliver, President and CEO of Visit Ogden. “Working with Box Elder County Tourism, Spike 150, and numerous local organizations, plans are in the works for a three-day celebration that will include activities at the Ogden Union Station, a festival on Historic 25th Street, and a re-creation of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit. The best place to find an up-to-date list of the evolving events is at goldenspike2019.com.”
Numerous events will be taking place at the Ogden Union Station, including a nose-to-nose meeting of two steam engines, including the Big Boy, the world’s largest coal-fired steam engine. Ogden Downtown Alliance has partnered with the Union Station, Ogden City and Visit Ogden to host a three-day extension of the Heritage Festival with a special “150th edition” event. The extension will expand down Historic 25th Street featuring live music, performances, vendors, community activities and more. The Heritage Festival 150th Anniversary edition will be an opportunity for our community to come together in celebration and learn about Ogden's history with the Transcontinental Railroad. Businesses and community organizations interested in participating activities should contact the Ogden Downtown Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Events have been planned throughout Ogden City. There will be a special presentation of Gold Mountain, the original musical by Jason Ma at Peery’s Egyptian Theater May 9-10. This musical celebrates the striving immigrant spirit, the redemptive power of love and the ultimate nobility of self-sacrifice during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
Additionally, there will be several educational presentations to help students reflect on the historical impact of the completion of the railroad leading up to the celebration. Lectures will be held at libraries throughout Weber County beginning in February covering topics highlighting families, women and Chinese workers that were instrumental to the construction of the transcontinental railroad. These presentations are sponsored by Weber State University, Ogden Union Station as part of the Weber County Library’s Weber Reads: The Transcontinental Railroad Program.
Due to the remote location of and narrow roads leading to the Golden Spike National Historic Site, attendance will be limited for the re-enactment of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit on May 10. Guests planning to attend this event are advised to secure lodging accommodations as soon as possible and to check goldenspike2019.com for updated event, parking and transportation information. Watch parties to view a live stream of the reenactment will also be held at the Ogden Union Station and the Fairgrounds in Box Elder County.
For more information about the upcoming celebration visit goldenspike2019.com or spike150.org.