On May 10, 1869, a railroad worker lightly tapped on the ceremonial Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, symbolizing the completion of America's first transcontinental railroad with the last spike. A telegram was sent: dot, dot, dot, done...and the nation celebrated!
Bernice Gibbs Anderson (1900-1981), as a 5-year-old child living on a ranch near Promontory Summit, Utah, became determined that the mostly abandoned site of the last spike for the transcontinental railroad should be honored and preserved for future generations. Her goal was that it be made a National Monument. (In 1965 it became a National Historic Site in the National Park Service; Bernice Gibbs Anderson is widely credited for her mostly one-woman campaign that made that happen. In 2019 it became a National Historical Park.) She worked tirelessly on this cause from 1926 through the early 1970s when she retired, writing hundreds of letters, articles, columns and several booklets and books. She sought to gather support and raise awareness by becoming a local historian and staff reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and Box Elder News-Journal. She also joined the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce in the early 1950s, one of the first women to do so. The National Park Service gave her a commendation for "bringing about the establishment of Golden Spike National Historic Site." National Park Service former Chief Historian Robert M. Utley called Bernice Gibbs Anderson's campaign, "A splendid lesson in elementary civics."
This website features part of the 3,000+ piece Bernice Gibbs Anderson Collection of personal papers she donated to the Golden Spike Visitor Center of the National Park Service in January 1966 and November 1978. Most of the collection has been archived away for decades, and is now being digitized so it can be shared online. Citizen archivists, including one of Bernice's granddaughters, Mckell Keeney, are scanning the collection. This website was set up for the Golden Spike Association of Box Elder County to help tell the story of how Golden Spike became a unit in the National Park Service, and share the collection with the public.
The Golden Spike Association of Box Elder County, Utah, a non-profit organization, was founded in the early 1950s by Bernice Gibbs Anderson and a few associates to help preserve the the site of America's first transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, west of Brigham City. The Golden Spike Association is unusual in that it was formed about 14 years prior to the site becoming a unit in the National Park Service system, rather than after, as most non-profit support partners for NPS units come about.
The Golden Spike Association arranges historical reenactments on Saturdays during the summer and annual commemoration ceremonies at Golden Spike National Historical Park, working in concert with the Park Superintendent and Park Rangers.
The current president of the Golden Spike Association is Norm Nelson. He and his wife, Willie (secretary/treasurer of the Golden Spike Association) can be reached at 435-723-2948. The office of the Golden Spike Association is in a historic train depot 833 W. Forest, Brigham City, Utah (hours by appointment only).
This is not the official site of the Golden Spike National Historical Park. Find them at https://www.nps.gov/gosp/ for park hours and any updates on the reenactment schedule on Saturdays at 11 am and 1 pm during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), on some U.S. holidays (other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day) and of course, each year on May 10th, the Golden Spike Anniversary.
Please visit our Facebook page, Golden Spike Utah, for more details on some of the photos and documents.
Please send any corrections on captions or comments about the images in the collection to Mckell Keeney at goldenspikedigital at gmail.