TS19: “The Grandest Enterprise …”
Written by: Gary Dolzall.
Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the driving of the “Golden Spike” and completion of America’s transcontinental railroad!
America’s transcontinental railroad: Horace Greeley called it “the grandest and noblest enterprise of our age.” High amid the Promontory Mountains of Utah, 150 years ago today on May 10, 1869, America’s “noble enterprise” came to culmination as Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific “Jupiter” stood pilot-to-pilot at Promontory Summit.
The transcontinental railroad was born of the dreams of men such as Theodore Judah, Grenville Dodge, and, yes, Abraham Lincoln; sired by Congress during the dark days of the American Civil War; and constructed in the late 1860s by the drive of men such as Doc Durant and Charles Crocker and the back-breaking and dangerous toil of thousands of American, Chinese, and Irish workers.
The Central Pacific (later to become the Southern Pacific) and Union Pacific built east from Sacramento and west from Omaha respectively, with each road energized by the promise of financial rewards and government land grants based upon the miles of road they each constructed. In the early months of 1869, the CP and UP track crews raced toward each other north of the Great Salt Lake in desolate Utah. Indeed, the grading teams of the two railroads not only raced toward, but past each other and at times were building grades adjacent to and within sight of each other. Finally, with a hard nudge from the U. S. Congress, it was agreed that the point of bonding of America’s transcontinental rails would be at the summit of the Promontory Range (while also concluding that the portion of the line built by Union Pacific west of Ogden would eventually be purchased and operated by Central Pacific).
Thus, at 12:47 p.m., on May 10, 1869, the railroads were joined during the historic “Golden Spike” ceremony, with the diminutive 4-4-0s of UP and CPRR “Facing on the single track, Half a world behind each back …” in the timeless words of poet Bret Harte. As captured for the ages in the glass plate of A. J. Russell, Central Pacific’s Samuel S. Montague shook hands with Grenville M. Dodge of the Union Pacific as scores of workers and dignitaries witnessed history and raised bottles in celebration.
Today the transcontinental railroad, enhanced and in select instances relocated, remains as vital as at any time in its long and storied history, serving as a main artery of the giant 30,000 route-mile Union Pacific. And indeed, the 150th Anniversary is cause for great celebrations, which are keynoted by Union Pacific steam excursions featuring both the “living legend” – Union Pacific 4-8-4 No. 844 – and the return to service of the world’s largest steam locomotive, UP “Big Boy” 4-8-8-4 No. 4014!
For enthusiasts, Train Simulator delivers the experience of the great transcontinental railroad, from its origins in the 1860s to present day. Indeed, with the remarkable Smokebox Promontory Summit route, you can return to the legendary days of 1869! With 68 route miles extending from Corrine, Utah over famed Promontory Summit and along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake to Kelton, Utah, the Smokebox Promontory Summit route is a truly remarkable re-creation of 19th century American railroading and its “Old West” environment. Rugged, remote topography, tough grades, spindly trestles, and the rough-and-tumble “tent towns” that dotted the newly constructed transcontinental line all come to enthralling life in the Smokebox route. Centered on Promontory Summit, the route includes segments of the railroad as originally operated by Central Pacific and Union Pacific, and thus provides a perfect and authentic setting to put to work Smokebox’s extraordinary assemblage of 1860s steam power – which includes Central Pacific 4-4-0 “Jupiter” and Union Pacific No. 119 of “Golden Spike” fame as well as CP’s 4-6-0 “Buffalo” type (available separately).
Train Simulator also provides you the opportunity to experience the transcontinental railroad through the decades, whether during the era of “big steam” in the mid-twentieth century or “super power” turbine and diesel power in the 1960s or contemporary Union Pacific railroading with third-generation diesels hustling intermodal traffic across the great American west on Train Simulator routes, including Sherman Hill and Donner Pass, which were each born as key portions of the transcontinental railroad.
On this 150th Anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, join us as we lift a glass to Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Judah and Grenville Dodge and all those whose vision and untiring labors indeed made the transcontinental railroad America’s “grandest and noblest enterprise.” – Gary Dolzall
Today we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the completion of America’s transcontinental railroad and you can experience the “grand and noble enterprise” with Train Simulator! Created by Smokebox, the 68-mile Train Simulator Promontory Summit route extends from Corrine, Utah over Promontory Summit and along the shore of the Great Salt Lake to Kelton, Utah, re-creating 19th century American railroading and its enthralling “Old West” environment. At legendary Promontory Summit, Union Pacific 4-4-0 No. 119 (above) passes the location of the “Golden Spike” ceremony (above) and Central Pacific 4-6-0 No. 86 (below) arrives from the west with passengers in tow. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
The Train Simulator Promontory Summit route includes segments of the transcontinental railroad originally operated by Union Pacific and Central Pacific. At the east end of the route is Corrine, Utah, located along the Bear River (above). At the eastern foot of the Promontory Range stood Blue Creek (also known as Dead Falls), where Union Pacific No. 116 prepares to couple onto a westbound passenger consist (below).
The transcontinental railroad’s east slope path over the Promontory Mountains was steep, rugged, and unforgiving. UP 4-4-0 No. 119 eases through a rock cut as it drops downgrade with eastbound passengers (above). The dramatic landmark of the Promontory Summit crossing was the “big trestle” (below). Standing 400-feet long and 85-feet high and constructed by the Union Pacific, the spindly wooden trestle incongruously stood right alongside a giant, unused fill constructed by the Central Pacific when the two roads were each laying down grades on the east slope.
Forever etched into railroading history by its participation in the “Golden Spike” ceremony 150 years ago, Central Pacific’s “Jupiter” rides the turntable at Victory, Utah (above), while at nearby Lake, CPRR 4-6-0 No. 86 chugs west with the great salt flats of Utah stretching into the distance (below).
As created by Smokebox with extraordinary authenticity and attention to detail, CPRR No. 60, the famed “Jupiter,” eases from the engine house at Kelton, Utah, on the western end of the 68-mile Train Simulator Promontory Summit route.
The experiences of the transcontinental railroad through the decades await you in Train Simulator. Representative of Union Pacific steam power through the ages are (left to right) historic UP 4-4-0 No. 119 of “Golden Spike” fame (as created by Smokebox); “living legend” Union Pacific 4-8-4 No. 844 (Smokebox); and Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” No. 4014 (Dovetail Games).
Diesel and turbine power employed on the transcontinental railroad in recent decades and available for Train Simulator include (left to right): Union Pacific EMD GP20 (created by Reppo); Union Pacific’s GTEL gas-turbine-electric (Dovetail Games); UP GE U50 (DTM); and Union Pacific EMD SD70ACe No. 1996 wearing Southern Pacific “heritage” livery (Dovetail Games).
You can experience the transcontinental railroad in modern form with Train Simulator’s Sherman Hill and Donner Pass routes. In a scene from High Iron Simulations’ recently released Union Pacific Scenario Pack 01, a trio of UP EMD SD70ACe diesels race priority double-stack traffic east over the always-bustling Sherman Hill route.
On this 150th Anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, join us as we lift a glass to those whose vision and untiring labors truly made the transcontinental railroad America’s “grandest and noblest enterprise.”
TS19: “The Grandest Enterprise …”