Press Release via The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Latter-day Saint leaders joined thousands of people at the Golden Spike National Historical Park in northern Utah to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike that marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The railroad connected the eastern rail network of the United States to the West Coast on May 10, 1869, a total distance of 1,912 miles.
“We are honored and blessed to be able to gather at this historic spot to commemorate the gargantuan accomplishment and the people who made it possible,” said President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Their hard work, sacrifices and spirit to get the job done helped connect this country in a way that has allowed generations of Americans and immigrants to fulfill their dreams.”
President Nelson marked the sesquicentennial along with government leaders and other dignitaries Friday at a reenactment ceremony at Promontory Summit, located about 90 miles northwest of Salt Lake City.
The historic site is where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads were joined in a transportation accomplishment that transformed the country and is regarded by historians as one of the most significant events of the 19th century.
President Nelson brought a piece of Latter-day Saint history to the ceremony: a spike that Brigham Young had created for the completion of the rail line connecting Ogden to Salt Lake City.
“This iron spike is engraved with these words: ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ These words honor and thank our Lord, who watched over His people as they completed the link to the nation’s new train system,” he said.
“Diverse people working as one had the ability to transform and unite a nation,” said the prophet of the global faith. “These hardy laborers achieved a oneness that can guide us, as a people, to move forward to fulfill God’s plan for this nation, the world and all of His children.”
Following his remarks, President Nelson, along with other officials and dignitaries, drove a commemorative spike.
Latter-day Saint pioneers were among the thousands of workers, including Chinese and Irish laborers, whose efforts made the railroad a reality. Church President Brigham Young was a supporter of the railroad that would bring the nation together and help transport Latter-day Saint immigrants to the area that would become known as the crossroads of the West.
The festivities continued Friday night in Salt Lake City with the O. C. Tanner Gift of Music concert at the Conference Center. Broadway stars Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty performed with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and the Utah Symphony.
During the evening performance on Temple Square, the choir sang a railroad medley, including “She’ll Be Coming ’round the Mountain” and “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad.”
Mitchell opened the concert with “Shenandoah” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” Hilty sang a medley of songs from “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“Today, across the state, you’ve celebrated a national achievement so monumental, so sweeping, so influential, it’s hard to comprehend it, much less express thanks for it,” said Hilty during the concert, her first performance with the choir.
“What happened at Promontory Point was not an end in itself. It was a new beginning. A coming together in an unprecedented way. And here in Utah, that coming together goes on,” added Mitchell, a Tony Award–winning artist who has performed with the choir in the past.
“We each drive our own golden spike whenever we look beyond ourselves, join hands, and take up the charge to be the change,” he said.