Governor Herbert announces ‘copper spike’ celebrating historic railroad milestone

May 9, 2019, 8:04 AM

golden spike ceremony transcontinental railroad...

A scene at the Golden Spike ceremony photographed May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County. Southern Pacific photo X1071 from an original photograph owned by the Iowa Historical and Art Department. Deseret News Archives

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert says it’s about time Utah gets its own “golden” spike to help recognize the Beehive state’s role in the joining of the transcontinental railroads from the east to the west. Wednesday, he signed a bill that made a commemorative 10-ounce copper spike Utah’s official spike.

copper spike transcontinental railroad

Gov. Herbert poses with the copper spike commissioned to celebrate Utah’s role in the joining of east and west with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Photo: Carter Williams,

“We are the epicenter of where it joined together at Promontory Summit.  They drove the golden spike in Utah. We’ve had four of them that have been done; two from California, one each from Arizona and Nevada, but not one from Utah.  So it’s about time we had our own spike as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike. There’s no better time than to do it now and we thank those who helped make that happen,” noted Herbert in remarks made on Wednesday.

copper spike transcontinental railroad

An image of the Utah copper spike during an unveiling event at O.C. Tanner Jewelry in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill to designate the spike as Utah’s official spike for the transcontinental railroad. Photo: Carter Williams,

The spike was made out of Utah copper, designed by noted jeweler O.C. Tanner.  It’s a commemorative 150th-anniversary spike to be put on display, and will stay in Utah.

“This spike represents Utah and the significant role we played here in the joining of the transcontinental railroads from the east and the west at Promontory Summit.  I think we forget the magnitude and significance of this event.  We know about it from the history books, but it joined the country together in times of significant divisiveness.  We were in the middle of a civil war,” Herbert said.

The governor says the significance of copper represents one of Utah’s biggest contributions to the U.S. The state is home to one of the world’s largest open pit copper mines.

He says trains have always played a very important role in transportation in Utah, past, present and future.

The 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad is Friday with celebrations planned throughout the state and even the nation.

Golden Spike stamps

The U.S. Postal Service will put its stamps of approval on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad by issuing three new Forever Stamps featuring the Jupiter and No. 119 locomotives and the golden spike. Source: U.S. Postal Service

On May 10, 1869, just four years after the end of the Civil War, the first Transcontinental Railroad was officially completed at Promontory, Utah. At the ceremony, four ceremonial spikes — two gold, one silver and one blended from iron, silver and gold — were ceremoniously driven into the railway ties, joining the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The last of the four, made of 17.6 karat gold and engraved with the names of railroad officers and directors, was gently tapped into place for show, then removed to be kept for posterity. (It is currently in the hands of the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford University.) The event was one of the first “nationwide” news events, as a telegraph operator flashed the word “done” across the country when the final tap happened.

Thursday, the “Big Boy” and “Engine 844” will re-enact the historic moment in Ogden. Then on Friday, more ceremonial re-enactments and celebrations will take place at Golden Spike National Historic Monument, near present-day Corinne.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Donald Trump at podium...

Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell, CNN

Trump fraud trial begins in New York on Monday: What to know

Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion in three separate years between 2011 and 2021, according to the attorney general’s office.

24 minutes ago

Frontline healthcare workers hold a demonstration on Labor Day outside Kaiser Permanente Los Angele...

Chris Isidore, CNN

Health care is in crisis. The looming strike by 75,000 health workers is just another sign of that

75,000 health care workers are participating in the nation’s largest health care strike in history.

55 minutes ago

Ambulance and first responders...

Ashley Fredde,

Murray police searching for driver who police say hit and killed a pedestrian in Murray

MURRAY — Murray police are looking for a driver who police say hit and killed a pedestrian in a hit-and-run crash Friday night. About 9:45 p.m., a pedestrian was about 30 feet south of a crosswalk in the northbound lanes of 900 East and approximately 6300 South in Murray, police said. The fatal crash may […]

1 hour ago

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota is leaving his position in House Democratic leadership o...

Kristin Wilson, CNN

House Democrat steps down from leadership role over party’s support of Biden’s reelection

Rep. Phillips of Minnesota is leaving his position in House Democratic leadership over his party’s support of President Biden’s reelection

2 hours ago

Police truck...


Four killed after small plane crashes north of Moab airport

A Classic Air Medical helicopter located the downed aircraft Sunday evening. Four people died in the accident.

2 hours ago

A pedestrian views diamond jewelry in the window of a store in the Diamond District neighborhood of...

Eva Rothenberg, CNN

Diamond prices are down as people spend more on travel and food

Prices for rough diamonds — the unpolished and uncut stones — have dipped in 2023 as many post-pandemic consumers shy away from luxury goods.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Governor Herbert announces ‘copper spike’ celebrating historic railroad milestone