Golden Spike National Historic Site commemorates an event that transformed the United States - the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Few other sites in Utah have such national significance. The National Park Service has undertaken a comprehensive project to survey, document, stabilize, and monitor the historic resources associated with the original Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad grades at Golden Spike.
In the first phase of the project, park service staff identified and performed a condition assessment on all the historic features in the park. This was a formidable task because many of the historic culverts in the grades had been buried and lost for decades.
Beginning in 1997, park service staff and local volunteers began stabilizing or reconstructing historic culverts based on the research of the previous two years. Because no precedents for these projects existed, the park service team developed new techniques for preserving buried wood features and methods for replicating historic construction techniques. Archaeological investigations, re-establishment of proper drainage, pest management, and vegetation removal were also important aspects of the preservation program.
All the information gathered from these projects has been collected in a centralized database to facilitate long-term management decisions. In addition, park staff monitor the condition of each historic feature every six months.
While restoring an 1869 stone culvert may not have the flashiness and appeal of renovating an historic house, these projects are crucial in protecting the original transcontinental railroad grades. They have also allowed Golden Spike to open portions of the grades never before accessible to the public and interpret a once-hidden history of the railroad's construction.