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Golden Spike National Park

Box Elder County


On May 10, 1869, the United States became joined, for the most part, Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean. To commemorate the event, a golden spike was inserted into the last tie

for ceremonial purpose then removed. Other precious ore spikes were placed into the tie also

and removed. The tie itself was made special from Laurel wood. Estimates vary from 500 to

3000 people attending the event. The golden spike was sent to Stanford University where it

remains today. Every May 10th, a full cast re-enactment is staged for visitors. On weekends,

local volunteers present a smaller version of the event. The museum offers many historical

videos and displays as well as replica locomotives, though in winter, the trains are put away

for maintenance. At Christmas time, one is usually brought out for display. Besides the

museum, there are driving tours that follow both the Central Pacific line and Union Pacific

line, as well as some hiking trails. The gift shop sales various replicas and the usual tourist

trap junk. I will say that their book selection on western history is excellent and they have

bags of gummy bears that are the bomb. In another entry, I'll cover the trip following the

Central Pacific rail bed all the way to Nevada.

Golden Spike National Park

Spiral Jetty

Box Elder County

When visiting the train display, you are very close to the infamous Spiral Jetty of the Great Salt Lake. Constructed in 1970 by Robert Smithson, the Jetty has become famous world wide. The Jetty was constructed of local black basalt rock and draws visitors from around the world. During the great flood stages of the 1980's, the Jetty disappeared beneath the water of the Great Salt Lake. Around the year 2000, it was rediscovered as the lake waters had receded. For the first few years, the Jetty was covered in salt making it a bright white against the lake water. As time has passed, the salt has worn off and it has returned to its natural color black. The road to the Jetty starts south of the train display and is 17 miles long. The county is maintaining the road somewhat so on dry days, most cars can get there with ease. The area is remote and very quiet. On most days, you can hear the trains going across the lake heading west and if you look, you can see them on the extreme horizon. Just east of the Jetty, someone drilled for oil at the lakes edge. There are various pilings and tar oozes out of the ground in a few spots. The rarest sight at the Jetty would be the semi-wild horse herd. For the most part they avoid people like the plague, though there have been exceptions. 

Spiral Jetty