WASHINGTON, D.C. — Call it the Golden Spike National Historical Park.
President Donald Trump inked the measure this week containing the provision redesignating the Box Elder County tourist site at Promontory Summit, which had been a national historic site.
Park representatives “hope the name change will attract even more visitors with whom we can share this piece of our nation’s amazing history,” Leslie Crossland, superintendent of the facility, said in a statement. The park is part of the U.S. National Park Service system, and the change comes on the eve of 150th anniversary celebrations of the May 10, 1869, sinking of the Golden Spike, representing completion of the nation’s transcontinental railroad system.
A series of activities are planned to mark the sesquicentennial event, dubbed Spike 150 by Utah boosters, while the new designation, park advocates say, will have a longer-ranging impact. Becoming a historical park “provides opportunities to attract additional tourists and economic benefit to Utah’s rural areas,” said the statement.
Public talk of elevating the Golden Spike facility’s status dates at least to last year and the formal change was contained in the Natural Resources Management Act, inked by Trump during a ceremony Tuesday. The broader measure contains more than 100 separate bills related to public lands, natural resources and outdoor recreation.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop has helped spearhead efforts to change the Golden Spike facility’s status and he spoke of the import of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, linking the eastern and western parts of the United States.
The completion of the rail network was “for transportation, as significant as landing a man on the moon would be for the 20th Century,” said Bishop, a Brigham City Republican. “The ability of having the rail system there meant that some of my ancestors that had to walk every step across the Plains taking months to get to Utah could now do it in seven days.”
Being a national historic park, upgraded from a national historic site, Golden Spike joins facilities like Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace in Illinois, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and more.
The new designation helps cement northern Utah as “the Golden Spike region,” said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. “It fits beautifully with our tourism strategy to attract visitors who want to immerse themselves in rich history and culture.”
Spike 150 events are planned across the state, before and after the May 10 anniversary activities.