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Promontory Locomotives

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This page was last updated on April 26, 2022.

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Overview

The Pacific Railroad was completed in Utah at Promontory Summit in early May 1869. A ceremony took place on May 10, 1869 to commemorate the completion of the railroad, with the driving of a Golden Spike. The two railroads arranged for two locomotives to meet pilot-to-pilot as part of the ceremony. The two locomotives were Union Pacific's "No. 119," and Central Pacific's No. 60 "Jupiter," both of the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement. Neither locomotive was preserved. Union Pacific No. 119 was retired by the railroad in 1903 and scrapped. Central Pacific No. 60 "Jupiter" was retired by the railroad in 1894 and sold, then scrapped in 1901.

(Read the Wikipedia article for UPRR No. 119)

(Read the Wikipedia article for CPRR No. 60 "Jupiter")

For the commemoration of the Centennial (100th year) of the driving of the Golden Spike on May 10, 1969, plans and proposals were made to build (or provide) two locomotives that would re-enact the original golden spike ceremony. The Golden Spike National Historic Site was created by Congress in 1965, with the intention of including a display of locomotives and cars that were at the original ceremony in 1869. A feasibility study was completed in 1966 and found that there was enough information available, or that information could be developed that would result in the completion of replica locomotives. But the construction of the replica locomotives was put on hold due to lack of funds at the National Park Service, which was to oversee the project. The Park Service would also oversee the 1969 Centennial ceremony, which would take place at what was then the Golden Spike National Historic Site, now known as the Golden Spike National Historical Park. Although first proposed in 1966, it wasn't until 1976 that funds became available for the replica locomotives.

Plans moved forward for the Centennial celebration, but without replica locomotives or cars. A search began to find locomotives that could act as temporary, interim examples of the types of locomotives used in 1869. There were few remaining examples of the 4-4-0 type of locomotives, with the best examples being former Virginia & Truckee locomotives used on that western Nevada railroad. In the mid 1930s, when Hollywood went looking for examples of 4-4-0 locomotives to be used in movies of the old west, they found the V&T and its bare-bones "operating museum" of old locomotives. Specifically, both MGM Studios and Paramount Pictures purchased several V&T locomotives and other rolling stock, which starred in numerous movies of the period. Four of these "movie" locomotives were used at Promontory as stand-in locomotives from 1969 to 1978.

Interim Locomotives

(1969 to 1978)

V&T "Reno" and "Genoa"

(At Promontory only in 1969)

To ensure that there would be two locomotives on display at Promontory on May 10, 1969, V&T No. 11 "Reno" was dressed up as Union Pacific No. 119, and V&T No. 12 "Genoa" was dressed up as Central Pacific No. 60 "Jupiter". Both locomotives were capable of moving under their own power at the time, which was one of the factors in their being selected for the Centennial celebration.

(Read more about V&T No. 11 "Reno", at VirginiaAndTruckee.com)

(Read more about V&T No. 12 "Genoa", at VirginiaAndTruckee.com)

V&T No. 11 "Reno" was owned by MGM Studios since 1945. MGM agreed to a short-term loan of the locomotive for the Centennial celebration.

V&T No. 12 "Genoa" was owned by the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, which had taken ownership in 1940 and moved the locomotive to the Western Pacific roundhouse in Oakland, California. As part of its contribution to the Centennial celebration, Southern Pacific had arranged for the loan of "Genoa" and moved the locomotive from Oakland to its Sacramento shop to be cosmetically refurbished.

These two locomotives were to remain temporarily at Promontory only for the summer of 1969. They were replaced on static display in 1970 by Virginia & Truckee No. 18 "Dayton" as Union Pacific No. 119, and V&T No. 22 "Inyo" as the "Jupiter".

V&T No. 11 "Reno" (as UP No. 119), owned by MGM Studios since 1945, was at the Centennial event at Promontory on May 10, 1969. In July 1969 MGM reclaimed it and moved it to a location near Santa Fe, New Mexico for a role in the movie "Cheyenne Social Club," posing as the "Betsy Tyler" but still in its UP No. 119 paint and number. (Trains magazine, November 1969, page 17; photo caption)

V&T No. 12 "Genoa" (as CP "Jupiter"), owned by Pacific Chapter since 1940, remained at Promontory until September 1969 and was returned to Sacramento where SP changed its appearance back to V&T "Genoa" and returned it to the Pacific Coast Chapter.

Timeline

March 5, 1969
V&T No. 12 "Genoa" was reconditioned and repainted as Central Pacific No. 60 Jupiter at the Southern Pacific shops in Sacramento. V&T No. 12 "Genoa" was owned by the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, and was stored in the Oakland rail yards. The locomotive was moved by truck from Oakland to Sacramento on March 5th. After its change of appearance, the locomotive departed Sacramento by truck on April 28, 1969. The locomotive and truck arrived at Promontory on May 2nd, and was unloaded on a one-mile stretch of track. (Box Elder County News, March 9, 1969; Deseret News, April 29, 1969; Ogden Standard Examiner, April 30, 1969)

May 8, 1969
The two locomotives arrived by truck from California (Jupiter from Sacramento; 119 from Los Angeles), and were placed on the rails at Promontory on May 8, 1969. (Box Elder Journal, May 8, 1969)

June 22, 1969
V&T No. 11 "Reno," as UP No. 119, was made fully operational by crews from MGM Studios and Union Pacific, in preparation for a move by truck on July 1st from Promontory, to a movie location near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The "Reno" was on loan to Promontory as part of a 30-day recall. V&T No. 12 "Genoa," as CP No. 60 "Jupiter" was to remain at Promontory until September 1st, when it would be returned to the Pacific Chapter in California. (Box Elder News, June 22, 1969; June 29, 1969)

September 1, 1969
During the last re-enactment at Promontory over the Labor Day weekend, Utah Senator Frank Moss announced that plans were already in place to build permanent display locomotives for the Golden Spike National Historic Site. At the time only V&T "Genoa" was at the Promontory site, since V&T No. 11 "Reno" had been reclaimed by MGM Studios for movie work in New Mexico. V&T Genoa would remain at Promontory "for a few more weeks." (Box Elder Journal, September 4, 1969)

(Today, the "Reno" is back in Nevada on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. MGM sold the "Reno" in 1970 and it was displayed at Old Tucson in Arizona. For the next 51 years the locomotive remained at Old Tucson, and had roles regularly in a variety of movies and television shows. It was operational until a fire in 1995 damaged parts of the cab interior. In 2021 the "Reno" was moved to the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Nevada and, although not in operating condition, regularly takes part in events on the railroad.)

(Today, the "Genoa" is part of the California State Railroad Museum collection at Sacramento.)

V&T "Dayton" and "Inyo"

(At Promontory, 1970-1978)

As part of its own efforts to celebrate the Centennial, Union Pacific made arrangements to borrow (from Paramount Pictures) the former V&T 4-4-0 No. 18 "Dayton" to use as a temporary stand-in for Union Pacific No. 119, and V&T 4-4-0 No. 22 "Inyo" as a temporary stand-in for Central Pacific No. 60 "Jupiter". Both locomotives were leased from Paramount Pictures for the purposes of display as part of Union Pacific's Golden Spike Centennial Expo display train

Union Pacific took the two locomotives into its East Los Angeles shop and did a  "cosmetic renovation" as well as making the needed changes to make them appear as UPRR No. 119 and CPRR Jupiter. The two locomotives were loaded onto flat cars for display purposes, and began their journey to Promontory. (Later arrangements were made that allowed the two locomotives to be placed on display at the Promontory site, where the were displayed from 1970 to 1978.)

(Read more about V&T No. 18 "Dayton", at VirginiaAndTruckee.com)

(Read more about V&T No. 22 "Inyo", at VirginiaAndTruckee.com)

The Union Pacific Golden Spike Centennial Expo train was made up of the two locomotives loaded on a drawbar-connected set of 53' flat cars, together with four pieces of vintage equipment loaded on two heavy-duty flat cars, and a special exhibition car that was a rolling museum.

The locomotives were loaded on Union Pacific F-70-20 class flat car number 258160, a draw-bar connected twin set of 53' flat cars. Converted in 1967 for container service, the two original cars had been built in 1965 as F-70-12 class flat cars in the 58100- and 58200-series.

The four pieces of vintage equipment (a derrick car, a blacksmith car, a box car, and a coach, all also owned by Paramount Pictures) were loaded, two on each flat car, on two modern Union Pacific heavy-duty flat cars. The derrick car and blacksmith car were loaded on UP 258654, and the box car and coach were loaded on UP 258655. These heavy-duty flat cars had been converted for container service in late 1968 from retired arch-roof heavyweight Baggage cars. The two cars were part of a larger group of 100 heavy-duty flat cars numbered in the 258600- series, and later as Maintenance of Way cars in the 909300- and 909400-series.

The four vintage cars have been described by Kyle Wyatt:

The special train included an exhibition car converted in November 1968 from a modern coach (UP 5338) by plating over its windows, changing its interior fittings and applying a special paint scheme. The exhibition car was a rolling museum and included 19 displays inside that told the story of Union Pacific's part in the completion of the Pacific Railroad. (This special exhibit car is today part of the collection of the Utah State Railroad museum at Ogden, Utah.)

As part of their multi-state tour during 1969 as part of Union Pacific's Golden Spike Centennial Expo train, the locomotives and vintage cars visited 100 cities, including Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and points in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nebraska. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 5, 1970)

Based on newspaper reports, Union Pacific's Golden Spike Centennial Expo train was on public display in a large number of cities on the Union Pacific system throughout March through October 1969.

(Read more about the tour of the Promontory locomotives, including a list of cities and dates visited)

Timeline

May 1, 1969
Two locomotives (V&T "Dayton" and "Inyo") and four vintage railroad cars were loaned to Union Pacific by Paramount Pictures. The locomotives and period cars were loaded on flat cars and were on display in Salt Lake City beginning on May 1st. The special "Golden Spike Centennial Expo" train was displayed in Salt Lake City from May 1 to May 6. (Deseret News, May 1, 1969, "today")

April 27, 1970
Utah Senator Frank Moss announced that the two former V&T locomotives owned by Paramount Pictures would soon be arriving at Promontory as a semi-permanent display, pending funding for two permanent replicas being built. The two V&T locomotives were currently in storage in Los Angeles and were to be moved to Utah by rail, then transferred to trucks for the trip to Promontory. Negotiations for the loan was between Senator Moss, the National Park Service, Utah Governor Rampton, and Paramount CEO Charles Bludorn. The locomotives were initially to be on loan only for the 1970 season. (Box Elder Journal, April 27, 1970; Ogden Standard Examiner, April 30, 1970; Garland Times Leader, May 7, 1970)

The two former V&T locomotives arrived in Salt Lake City from Los Angeles by rail on May 7, 1970 and were transferred to trucks for the trip to Promontory, and were placed on the rails at Promontory in time for the May 10th re-enactment. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 5, 1970)

April 22, 1971
Utah Governor Calvin Rampton wrote a letter to Nevada Governor Mike O'Callaghan, asking for his cooperation to leave the two former V&T locomotives in Utah at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, pending Nevada being able to acquire the locomotives as part of its planned state railroad museum. Nevada was in negotiations with Paramount Pictures to purchase the locomotives. Rampton and others in Utah were working for the National Park Service to obtain funding for the building of permanent replicas of the Promontory locomotives, and Rampton also asked in his letter for the help of Nevada's two Senators in obtaining the needed funds at an early date. (Box Elder Journal, April 22, 1971)

Five years after the May 1969 Centennial, in April 1974, Paramount Pictures sold both locomotives to the State of Nevada. They remained at Promontory until they were moved in November 1978 to their new home in Nevada.

Replica Locomotives

(1979 to present)

May 3, 1971
Utah Senator Frank Moss asked the National Park Service director why the $430,000 [later reported as $355,000] remaining from the construction of the Promontory visitors center and improvement of the Promontory site, had not been used to purchase permanent replicas of the two Promontory locomotives. Reportedly, the original bill authorizing the improvement of the entire Promontory site in time for the 1969 Centennial celebration had included funds for the construction of replica locomotives. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 4, 1971) (Later reports in 1974 also put the $355,000 figure as being only half the amount needed.)

April 14, 1974
The State of Nevada purchased from Paramount Pictures, the two former V&T locomotives on display at the Golden Spike National Historic Site. The purchase price was reported as being $75,000 each. (Box Elder News, April 14, 1974)

November 21, 1974
The National Park Service sent out requests for bid proposals for the design and construction of at least one permanent replica locomotive for the Promontory site, knowing that the actual cost for two locomotives is closer to $1 million. Bids were due at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver by December 10, 1974. (Box Elder Journal, November 21, 1974; Davis County Clipper, January 10, 1975)

March 10, 1975
The Utah congressional delegation, Senators and Representatives, introduced bills for $4.2 million to complete the Golden Spike National Historic Site, including two locomotives and a building to house and maintain them. (Box Elder Journal, March 6, 1975; Deseret News, March 11, 1975)

March 30, 1975
The National Park Service let a contract to O'Connor Engineering of Costa Mesa, California, for the designs, plans and patterns of two permanent locomotives for the Promontory site. (Box Elder News, March 30, 1975; Provo Daily Herald, March 30, 1975)

May 17, 1975
The Nevada legislature approved $300,000 for the construction of a building to house its collection of former V&T equipment. This meant that the two former V&T locomotive at Promontory would be moving to Nevada when the building was completed, likely in early 1976. The permanent replacements for the former V&T locomotives at Promontory would not be ready until late 1977 or early 1978, meaning that the Promontory site would be without locomotives in the meantime. In early 1976, Nevada said that it would allow the two former V&T locomotives to remain through the 1976 tourist season, and that they would likely reclaim the locomotives in March 1977. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 17, 1975; Box Elder Journal, February 26, 1976; Logan Herald Journal, March 5, 1976)

February 18, 1977
The National Park Service announced that the two permanent replica locomotives for Promontory were under construction and would be delivered "sometime in 1978." The reported cost for the two locomotives and a service building for them was $1.5 million. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 18, 1977) (Later reports stated that the two replica locomotives were to be completed and in place at Promontory by May 10, 1978, then by October 1977, to October 1978.)

(This NPS announcement followed a lengthy series of congressional committee hearings, and conference committees throughout late 1976 for the approval of the funds, which were part of the National Park Service's annual budget, which in-turn was part of the national annual budget.)

October 12, 1977
The National Park Service awarded a $586,500 contract for the construction of a 5,700-square-feet building to house and maintain the two replica locomotives when they arrive in October 1978. The building was to be completed one month prior to the arrival of the locomotives. The contract included a 100,000-gallon underground storage reservoir for water to be used by the locomotives, and for fire protection for the entire Promontory site. The contract also included the construction of additional trackage to connect the locomotive building with the Last Spike site, including a wye track as a turn-around track. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 12, 1977; Box Elder Journal, October 13, 1977)

November 6, 1978
Plans were announced on November 2nd for the two former V&T locomotives to leave Promontory on November 6, 1978 and be moved to their new home in Nevada. (Magna Times, November 2, 1978; Wasatch Wave, November 9, 1978)

May 2, 1979
The two replica locomotives departed O'Connor Engineering in California on Monday May 1st, and passed through Fillmore, Utah, on May 2nd, en route to Promontory. Both were loaded on low-boy trucks of the Contractors Cargo Company; the move required four trucks, two for the locomotives and two for the tenders. A stop was made in Fillmore for some minor repairs to one of the trailers. (Millard County Progress, May 4, 1979, with photos)

May 10, 1979
The two replica locomotives, and their new maintenance building were formally dedicated at the "Last Spike" re-enactment ceremony. The dedication was at the newly completed locomotive maintenance building. After the dedication, visitors were invited to move one mile to the west to the Last Spike site for the annual re-enactment. (Orem-Geneva Times, May 10, 1979)

June 30, 1979
The two replica locomotives were operated for the first time over new tracks between their new maintenance building, where they had been sitting during the May 10th event five weeks earlier, and the Last Spike site. (Provo Daily Herald, June 27, 1979)

May 6, 1994
The two replica locomotives made their debut during the 125th anniversary of the Last Spike ceremony, wearing their new more accurate color schemes. The change in colors came from articles in the 1868-1869 period that described the colorful schemes on the locomotives when they were first built. (Provo Daily Herald, December 29, 1993; Salt Lake Tribune, May 6, 1994; Trains magazine, August 1994)

Kyle Wyatt (Curator of History, Nevada State Railroad Museum, 1990-1999) wrote on April 24, 2022:

New historic paint schemes were developed by noted railroad locomotive historian Jim Wilke, based on historic newspaper articles about the specific locomotives, and broader research about locomotive decorative practices in the 1860s.  I speak as the person who set up Jim Wilke to do the initial research for an NSRM-sponsored V&T Railroad History Symposium in 1993 (along with a presentation by Bob Dowty about the replicas at Promontory), and as the person who provided Jim with the key newspaper article when the CP #60 Jupiter went into service.  Ongoing research by Jim Wilke and many others in the years since 1994 has greatly refined the understanding of what the "correct" historical locomotive color and decorative treatments on the two locomotives should actually be – updating specific colors and patterns (Caledonian blue instead of "Pepsi" blue on CP #60 Jupiter, for instance) but not greatly changing the overall appearance.

2021
Both replica locomotives were fully disassembled and reconditioned. (View the KSL.com news story)

Other Trains

Golden Spike Centennial Limited

As part of the Centennial celebration in May 1969, the High Iron Company arranged for a special train to be run from New York City to Salt Lake City. Called "The Golden Spike Centennial Limited" the 13-car train with its 150 passengers departed New York City on May 3rd, and arrived in Salt Lake City on the evening of May 8th.

(Read about the Golden Spike Centennial Limited at ThemeTrains.com)

(Read about the Golden Spike Centennial Limited at Trains.com)

Gold Spike Special

Operated by Southern Pacific from Oakland to Ogden

(This special train is not covered here; interested persons are encouraged to complete the needed research and share the results.)

Pacific Railroad Society

Operated by Southern Pacific Los Angeles to Ogden, by way of Sacramento

(This special train is not covered here; interested persons are encouraged to complete the needed research and share the results.)

Drawings

As part of the design and construction of the two replica locomotives, a set of drawings were completed to guide the building process. There were almost 800 sheets in the drawing set when completed. The drawings were donated to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., which had them digitized. The drawings were made available to the public by the National Park Service, at the store within the visitor center at Promontory, in the form of a set of two CDs.

NPS Drawings, Part 1 -- A PDF of sheets 1 through 281 of the 786 sheets of drawings for the Promontory locomotives. (From the 2 CD set) (PDF; 281 pages; 461.5MB)

NPS Drawings, Part 2 -- A PDF of sheets 282 through 786 of the 786 sheets of drawings for the Promontory locomotives. (From the 2 CD set) (PDF; 507 pages; 522.2MB)

Video

Jupiter & No. 119, Locomotives of the Golden Spike -- Film by BYU about the building of the two replica Promontory locomotives (MP4; 25 minutes; 169.5MB) (Converted from VHS tape)

Jupiter & No. 119, Locomotives of the Golden Spike -- Film by BYU about the building of the two replica Promontory locomotives (YouTube)

Newspapers

Promontory Locomotives Newspapers -- A collection of newspaper clippings and photos covering the Promontory locomotives.

Photos

Promontory Locomotives Photos -- An online album of photos of the locomotives used at Promontory in 1969 and later.

More Information

Rebirth of the Jupiter and the 119; Building the Replica Locomotives at Golden Spike. By Robert R. Dowty. Southwest Parks & Monuments Association, 1994. (Read the book at Archive.org)

Roy E. Appleman Report, July 1966 -- The feasibility study for the construction of the replica locomotives. (Mirrored at UtahRails.net without permission)

(Read the Wikipedia article for the Golden Spike National Historical Park)

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