Golden Spike Historical Site & Museum & The Spiral Jetty Nov 2009

Promontory Travel Blog

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Mike & Fireman Sam looking at the Central Pacific's Jupiter Engine #60 working replica steam engine
In 1869 the Central Pacific Railroad track being laid from Omaha, NE, finally met up with the Union Pacific Railroad track being laid from Sacramento, CA after six years of struggle, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across land by rail. Since the railroad companies were being paid by the mile to lay track & since at the beginning of the project there had been no place set as to where they would meet to connect, the two companies raced  laying grade parallel past each other in opposite direction for 250 miles. (Can you say "our tax $$$ at work?! It was the original Stimulus Package after the Civil War, I think. Kind'a kidding but kind'a not.) Finally Congress declared the meeting point to be at Promontory Summit, UT. The Central Pacific had laid 690 miles of track & the Union Pacific 1,086 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains over Donner Pass.
Union Pacific's #116 replica steam engine
Golden Spike National Historic Site

The two engines that met that day were the Central Pacific's Jupiter #60 & Union Pacific's #119. Years later the Jupiter engine was offered for sale for $1000. but no one could get the money together to buy it & it was eventually scraped.  In more recent years about $1.5 million was spent to recreate working replicas of the two engines. The pictures are of the replicas in their winter train barn. During the summer they do reenactments of the meeting of the two trains. They are working steam engines, ear splitting whistles and all. 

We left the Golden Spike Museum & headed south 16 miles & 45 minutes for the Spiral Jetty.
Mike & Sam could talk "train" for hours. It is a language similar to English...
They have worked quite a bit on the road but it is still teeth jarring. We hadn't been out to see it for about three years. I thought I was prepared for any changes that might have taken place but I was totally unprepared. The drought has taken the Great Salt Lake about 1/4 mile away form the jetty. The first time we were there, ten years ago it was under about 2 inches of water.  The water was reddish pink & white (brine shrimp and salt deposits. We walked it to the center in a meditation & then back out that same way. Our feet were lacerated by the salt crystals. Yes, we had shoes on, laced up as tight as we could get them. The Spiral Jetty in all it's beauty a few years ago I guess I would like you to see it how it was before the drought.
Very strange fog on the way to the Spiral Jetty from the Golden Spike Museum
  Some info about the Spiral Jetty if you are interested

Three years ago, the water was down enough that their were pockets of water on the jetty but it is 15 ft wide (and 1500 ft long in a counter clockwise coil) so it was fairly easy to skirt the puddles & avoid the lacerations for the sake of doing a meditation spiral. The water surrounded the jetty, reddish pink & white & it was absolutely beautiful! When the jetty was built in 1970 it was 4 ft high on dry land because the lake was down in the drought.  The lake came back up & it was covered so that it couldn't be seen at all except from directly over head in an airplane for 3 decades.
More fog.
3 years ago there was about 2 feet of rock showing below the 2 to 4 inches of water over it.

Today, Nov 1, 2009 it is high & dry & maybe only a ft of it sticks up out of the damp salt. The atmosphere was strange today. There was a lot of radiation fog or maybe smog. I want it to be radiation fog. The pictures are weird. Looking at is was weird. We walked it in meditation but I was nearly in tears; Mike was quiet. Being tearful about it is silly; Smithson, it's maker, wasn't big into his art lasting forever. He was kind of the mind that it lasts however long it lasts - all things die & come apart. And actually nothing has happened to it. It's still there. It is basalt rocks & boulders collected from the nearby hill. It is just under tons of dirty salt. (Can you say Morton? They work the other end of the lake.
And yet more fog.
) When the water evaporates the salt stays since it is a land locked lake.  When the water comes back, a lot, though not all, of the salt goes back into solution & so more of the Jetty is visible like it was 3 years ago. When the water is up, if you step into it, you sink up over your ankle in salt & the salt crystals of course slice your ankle above your shoe. You only do that once.

The pictures from today of the mountains in the distance, with their reflections in the distant salt water are strange. If you double click on the pictures they will enlarge & you can go from one to another.

After we left the the Jetty & started our rock & roll trip back the moon came out above the mountains on the east.  It was beautiful.

PS.  About a month ago we paddled the Great Salt Lake in a tandem kayak.
Are you getting the idea I was taken with the fog.
We put in at the causeway which is at about the middle of the lake, north to south. It was totally creepy. There is about 3 inches of fresh water floating on top of the salt water. Below that is 30 ft of 100% salt saturated water. The fresh water was going in one direction & the salt water was going in a different direction as evidenced by the stuff floating in it. That makes your mind do a back flip. The water is murky, full of dead & alive brine shrimp, brine shrimp casings, algae... It seriously spooked me. I know there is nothing else in there but it was as if something would come up out of it & get us. Perfect plot for a horror movie.

I told Mike that if we tipped over I would be dead. He said no, you won't drown, you'll float. I said if I go in it will be a heart attack that gets me. We laughed a lot & joked but I don't have to paddle it again. Interestingly enough the water that was at the north end of the lake 3 years ago was completely clear without all the yuck. And in the middle you have no since of what is happening with the lake as a whole, as evidenced at the Spiral Jetty.
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Mike & Fireman Sam looking at the …
Mike & Fireman Sam looking at the…
Union Pacifics #116 replica steam…
Union Pacific's #116 replica stea…
Mike & Sam could talk train for …
Mike & Sam could talk "train" for…
Very strange fog on the way to the…
Very strange fog on the way to th…
More fog.
More fog.
And yet more fog.
And yet more fog.
Are you getting the idea I was tak…
Are you getting the idea I was ta…
Sky, mountain, fog, weeds, dirt
Sky, mountain, fog, weeds, dirt
Fog
Fog
Fog
Fog
Weeds. But you have to admit they …
Weeds. But you have to admit they…
More cool weeds.
More cool weeds.
Different weeds. The road turned r…
Different weeds. The road turned …
Weeds & rocks on the hill above th…
Weeds & rocks on the hill above t…
These are the brothers & sisters t…
These are the brothers & sisters …
More rocks & sage brush (weeds)
More rocks & sage brush (weeds)
The Spiral Jetty
The Spiral Jetty
The north end of the Great Salt La…
The north end of the Great Salt L…
Saltwater without the water
Saltwater without the water
Salt crystals on the side of one o…
Salt crystals on the side of one …
(top to bottom)Sky with a lenticul…
(top to bottom)Sky with a lenticu…
Same without the lenticular cloud
Same without the lenticular cloud
same
same
same
same
Sun doing its thing with the came…
Sun doing it's thing with the cam…
(top to bottom) sky, clouds, mount…
(top to bottom) sky, clouds, moun…
more of earlier
more of earlier
and guess what
and guess what
and again
and again
and again. these are just all the …
and again. these are just all the…
yep, you guessed it
yep, you guessed it
Leaving the Jetty the moon came up…
Leaving the Jetty the moon came u…
Fog overtaking the weeds as we lea…
Fog overtaking the weeds as we le…
More fog capturing weeds
More fog capturing weeds
Here you can actually see how the …
Here you can actually see how the…
Our last look of this particular s…
Our last look of this particular …
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photo by: callufrax