It may be lost on all but the most hard-core railroad buffs, but May 10 marked the 142nd anniversary of the "Golden Spike," the ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford at Promontory, Utah, to mark the joining of two rail lines to form the country's first trans-continental railroad. The event ushered in coast-to-coast commerce in the United States.
Stanford, one of the four major Sacramento, Calif., businessmen who were the key investors in the Central Pacific Railroad Co., drove the spike at the location where the grade of the Central Pacific, built east from Sacramento, met that of the Union Pacific Railroad, which had been built west from its eastern terminus at Omaha, Neb.
The ceremony was originally to be held on May 8, 1869, which was the date engraved on the spike. However, it was postponed two days because of bad weather and a labor dispute that delayed the arrival of the Union Pacific side of the rail line.