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Holladay Journal

The Train Shoppe offers easy way to appreciate the First Transcontinental Railroad

May 20, 2019 11:58AM ● By Holly Vasic

Attendees dressed up in 1869 fashions while enjoying The Golden Spike 150th anniversary celebration at Promontory Point. (Holly Vasic/City Journals)

By Holly Vasic | [email protected]

May 10, 1869, was a day diligence and perseverance paid off. The First Transcontinental Railroad connected at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory. The sesquicentennial celebration of the Golden Spike, the last spike driven into the railroads ceremoniously bringing the coasts of America together, happened this past May with a grand celebration. 

Thousands gathered at Promontory Summit on May 10, 2019 to witness the re-enactment of the Golden Spike. Big screens made it possible for everyone to have a good view. Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific’s Jupiter faced each other on the railroad tracks, like they did 150 years before—the steam locomotives are reproductions of the originals. 

Performers, volunteers, and some attendees were dressed in 1869 costumes and a slew of golden spike memorabilia was available at the giftshop, which had a line that wrapped around the building. Food trucks helped feed the masses. 

Kris Nielson, co-owner of Marquesas Corndogs, one of the food trucks at the event, said, “We were told to expect about 50,000 people at the park. We were asked to prepare to serve 1,000 people per day. We knew it was going to be busy.” And that is exactly what happened. “People from around the world appreciate golden spikes, history and hand-dipped dogs.”

If you missed the festivities, South Salt Lake has its own train hobby shop to help you enjoy and appreciate railroads. Justin Nichols of The Train Shoppe, 2964 S. State St., said people can see the Jupiter and No. 119 at the shop on a much smaller scale. The store is filled with model trains displayed on mountainous terrain with bridges and houses and also for sale new in the box. 

In the back children can enjoy original train rides and games, with birthday party rooms that look like Old West store fronts. For curious readers, Nichols recommended the book, “Echoes of Hammers and Spike” by Clive Romney with Sam and Suzanne Payne to learn more about the First Transcontinental Railroad. It is available at the store. “There is a lot of good info in that about the actual event, how it all came about,” Nichols said.

Local mom Krystina Richins is a fan of The Train Shoppe. The first time she took her daughters, ages 3, 6, 8 and 12, to attend a friend’s son’s birthday party, “I'd never heard of it and never would have thought to go inside from looking at it,” Richins said. “But there's a door in the back that takes you to this darkened, almost magical world of trains.” 

Richins recommends the shop for kids ages 2 and up, but noted, “My oldest is 12, and she loved it, too.” 

The Golden Spike re-enactment is a yearly event held at Promontory Summit and worth the hour and half drive north to re-live Utah history. But, for a closer trip, visit The Train Shoppe to celebrate trains whenever you want.