GS file lion dance

Dancers perform a Chinese Lion Dance during the 150th anniversary celebration of the driving of the Golden Spike at Golden Spike National Historic Site (now Golden Spike National Historical Park) in Promontory on May 10, 2019.

After canceling the annual celebration in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, the park is once again welcoming the public back for this year’s anniversary event, scheduled for May 8-10. Attendees will need to reserve tickets in advance this year.

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Two years ago, the celebration of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory was the biggest it has ever been as tens of thousands from all over the world gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

The contrast from one year to the next couldn’t have been more stark, as last year’s event was canceled altogether in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time around, Golden Spike National Historical Park is looking for some middle ground as it plans to once again invite the public back for the 152nd anniversary of the event that formally connected the east and west coasts of the United States by rail on May 10, 1869.

The park announced last week on its website that it plans to welcome visitors to the annual commemoration on May 8-10 with events including reenactments of the Last Spike ceremony, locomotive ranger programs and other activities over the three days.

However, unlike in previous years, those wishing to attend will need to make ticket reservations in advance in order to comply with “current CDC, state and local health guidance,” according to the announcement.

More information on ticket reservations will be available on the park website (www.nps.gov/gosp) “as we get closer to the date. Please monitor the website for more information,” the announcement reads.

The park is currently open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, including the visitor center, bookstore, auditorium and exhibit area. The East Auto Tour loop and Big Fill Trail are also open, with the West Auto Tour loop expected to open in late May or early June. Facemasks are required inside all indoor facilities, and anywhere in the park “where physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

The park’s Jupiter and No. 119 locomotives are scheduled to begin operating on May 1.

Visitors to the park will be greeted by a new, life-sized bronze sculpture of a bison that was installed in May 2020. The 6,000-pound work, named “Distant Thunder,” was created by Utah-based artist Michael Coleman.

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