A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Promontory Point Utah

Viewer Advisory: Disgruntled Post Following

Ever since I was a young boy and learned about the building of the first
trans continental railroad and the famous golden spike, I wanted to go to
that place where the two tracks met, Promontory Point on the north end of
the Great Salt Lake in Utah. You have to drive some 30 miles out of the
way of going anywhere else to reach the site. Who'd want to do that? 
So you can imagine my surprise seeing all these people upon arrival.

People were milling around being generally a nuisance waiting for one of
the trains to arrive whereupon the Park Service would conduct a
reenactment of the ceremony of that day, May 10, 1869 complete with players in period
dress and reciting the speeches given for the event. I say "nuisance" for
it seemed a fair number of people were going about doing just what they
were told not to do when paying their admission fee, such as taking souvenir
rocks from the track bed, walking around where you were not supposed to be for
example where the train would be coming in spewing out hot steam, or laying coins on the track for the train to smash (I personally did not witness that one). I notice
things like this. I watch people.  This lady had parked her big butt on
the wagon waiting for the train to come in. She had just stood up before I
snapped the shot. Imagine going through your entire life being illiterate.
(The sign reads: Please Keep Off The Wagon)

So here comes the train and everyone is taking pictures. This doofus
walks right in front of me. Afterwards I said to him "Here, I think
you'll like this photo" and showed him the picture of his big fat head on my camera screen.
"Thanks for walking in front of me" and I walked away. "Sorry." Sorry? Good grief! What the hell do you think I was doing with that little black box in my hand?  His boy Simon, I
thought for sure would be the first one to get scalded by a blast of hot
steam from the locomotive. They had no control whatsoever over the little red-headed
brat well wait, as I think about it controlling him was of no concern to the parents. 
 He was a privileged child who could do as he pleased.

Then the ceremony began. There were kids yelling and screaming, babies
crying and the ceaseless murmur of the crowd talking to one
another not paying attention that even with the aid of a sound system I
was still only able to pick up bits and pieces of what was being said.

I eventually gave up and walked off to read all of the signs and browse
the gift shop while the herd was corralled out by the ceremony site. I
find myself taking this tactic more and more of late. I can read information signs and look
at exhibits all without kids walking in front of me or some simple-minded adult standing next to
me reading the sign out loud. Use your inside voices people! Notice the
couple close to the train track. Surely they are fellow sufferers like me.

After the crowd dissipated some I was able to return to the locomotives
for a couple of photos. Understand that these are replicas faithfully
recreated down to the very last detail. Only a few changes were made in
the matter of safety. Yet I would have better appreciated it if the locomotives
looked like they did back on that day in 1869. After all, they had just
worked their way across the country and were filthy dirty, weather worn, black and covered
with soot and grime. But that's just me. The bling is more attractive
and everyone was impressed.

A lady engineer. Yes, I understand she is not authentic to the
event represented but I had no issue with it. It was one of the few
bright spots of my dismal experience at Promontory Point. The smudges of soot on her face made her cute to my eye. 
I wonder how many people even noticed that one of the engineers was a woman?

Honestly, I thought I'd drive out to some spot in the middle of a grassy
plain with a tall stone monument and brass placard describing "On this
very spot on May 10, 1869 the Central Pacific's Jupiter and Union
Pacific's No. 119 met to complete the first transcontinental
railroad...blah, blah, blah".

Nothing is real. In fact today there are no railroad tracks leading to or from the area at all. That original first line was out of use by...??? (one of the factoids lost to me due to the cacophony of noise from the inattentive crowd) as a new rail line was built at...(where did he say?). What exists at Promontory Point is 1.7 miles of track laid down on the original track bed for the Monument and Park Service to run the fancy locomotives back and forth upon for the tourists enjoyment. The original track was torn out and re-purposed. Newer track are steel rails for they used iron for train rails back in 1869 due to the Civil War. Naturally none of the original ties exist either. And who's to say this is the very exact spot that the last tie made of ash from the state of...??? (insert another lost fact here) was laid?

Some kid was standing on the "replica tie" as I was
trying to compose this photo long after things thinned out some and I finally had a chance at it. His mom eventually told him to move so "the man could get a photo". He moved over some
leaving one foot inside the track as a token of protest for having to even move
at all. "Your foot is still in my photo" I said. He moved it. "Click" "Now you
can put your foot back." And I walked away.
You can see his, or someone else's foot smudge on the plaque.
Yeah, let me make a point of grinding my shoe right on this thing.  There!

It seems families are more unruly and disrespectful to others than they
used to be not that long ago or is it just me who has become less tolerant
of the ill-mannered? As I drove back the 30 or so miles I thought a lot
about not only this but many of my experiences with popular tourist
attractions. It never gets better with the passing of years, only worse
and is amplified by the ever increasing numbers encountered.

Maybe I need to change the name of the blog to 
Beans and a Grumpy Old Man on the Loose.

For those of you who may want to read one of the signs about the event.
My grandmother told me that I have a great-great-somebody
who was there that day and is in this photo somewhere.


  1. Yes toerism doesn't make things better. Stil a nice reminder of history.

  2. Yes tourism is everywhere and attracts lots of people with kids. Everybody needs to be entertained these days.....

  3. When things are irritating me, John, I try to remember and practice what my mom told me...."look for the good folks and count those, not the trouble-makers." I try, but often I'm not successful...truth told, she failed sometimes, too (my nephews infuriated her, LOL).

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Grumpy old man indeed. And I agree, crowds of uninformed rude people are extremely annoying. What a shame that the last spike legend has been turned into a gaudy facsimile of the historical event.

  5. I like your new blog title! And I agree with your grumpy rant too. You get so much more verbose when you're grumpy!

  6. I don't blame you for being disgruntled.
    What you related in this post is one of the many reasons that I just like most people.
    Especially those with kids that they don't control.


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