Utah officials are spending $2M to throw ‘the biggest and best party’ for the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Gary Herbert talks about the world’s largest steam locomotive will be coming to Utah in May, to celebrate the golden spike 150 year anniversary, at the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

By Lee Davidson

So, Gov. Gary Herbert, what is Utah going to do with the $1 million that Union Pacific Railroad is donating to the state?

“This is going to help us have a party and celebrate like it’s 1869,” he said Thursday of the plan to mark the 150th anniversary of the May 10, 1869, completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit — when the country cheered and rejoiced at the final telegraphic message.

Union Pacific announced Thursday that it would match the $1 million appropriated by the Legislature for upcoming celebrations. Officials outlined some highlights — including the return of the original golden spike, and a visit by the world’s largest steam engine.

Herbert and Union Pacific officials even celebrated early by drinking bubbly in front of an engine, as some did during the big celebration 150 years ago — except Utah’s governor, who is a Latter-day Saint, drank sparkling apple cider.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Left to right Historian Brad Westwood, Gov. Gary Herbert, Clint Schelbitski Union Pacific Vice-President, Public Affairs, Doug Foxley, Spike 150 Celebration co-chair, and Nathan Anderson, Union Pacific director of public relations have a toast as they announce the 150 anniversary celebration of the Golden Spike, at the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

Doug Foxley spit it out, joking that he didn’t realize it was nonalcoholic. But the chairman of the Spike 150 commission, which is organizing the celebration, acted drunk with excitement as he ticked off a list of events the state has planned.

He vowed that it will be “the biggest and best party ever held in the state of Utah. I mean, move over Winter Olympics … we’re bringing back the golden spike,” the last rail driven to complete the railroad.

Herbert said about the transcontinental railroad: “What a feat. This was done during the Civil War. … It changed transportation. It changed the way we did business forevermore.”

Herbert added that completing it here also made Utah the literal crossroads of the West, a nickname the state and some of its cities claim. A new inland port in Salt Lake City may use rail, trucks and planes to increase international trade, he said, and make Utah “the crossroads of the world.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Gary Herbert talks about the world’s largest steam locomotive that will be coming to Utah in May, to celebrate the golden spike’s 150 year anniversary, at the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

Among some events outlined by Foxley and Union Pacific:

• From Jan. 27 through May, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will host an exhibition of more than 200 photos and stereographs of railroad construction, shot by Andrew Joseph Russell, photographer of the Union Pacific, and Alfred A. Hart, the photographer for the Central Pacific.

More events are listed and will be added at spike150.org.

• From Jan. 27 through May, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will host an exhibition of more than 200 photos and stereographs of railroad construction, shot by Andrew Joseph Russell, photographer of the Union Pacific, and Alfred A. Hart, the photographer for the Central Pacific.

More events are listed and will be added at spike150.org.

Published at sltrib.com

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