Re-Enactment of the Last Spike Ceremony


A Reenactment Script for the Golden Spike Ceremony

Adapted For Use By School Groups

Grades 4-6

Cast of Characters

Narrator: Telegrapher

Edgar Mills: Sacramento Banker and Master of Ceremonies

Dr. Harkness: Sacramento Newspaper Editor and Publisher

Reverend Todd: Reporter of the Boston Congregationalist

Leland Stanford: President of the Central Pacific Railroad and Ex-Governor of California

Dr. Durant: Vice-President of the Union Pacific Railroad

General Dodge: Union Pacific Railroad Chief Engineer and former Civil War General

Mr. Tritle: U. S. Railroad Commissioner and Candidate for Governor of Nevada

Governor Safford: Governor of the Territory of Arizona

Major Cogswell: 21st Infantry Band Leader

Mormon Band Leader: Leads the Salt Lake City Mormon Band

Railroad Worker: Who drives the last spike

(The Narrator sits at the telegrapher's key and the rest of the cast stands between the two locomotives. The audience quietly murmurs and then becomes quiet as the Narrator begins to speak.)

Narrator: The date is May 10, 1869. The place is Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. It is a happy gathering, awaiting the great moment when a common railroad spike driven into an ordinary tie will join a continent. A gentle breeze blows under an almost cloudless sky. It is 69 degrees in the shade. Above the voices can be heard the sound of the steam locomotives. A polished tie has been placed in its spot by the construction superintendents of the two railroads. Edgar Mills, a rich banker from Sacramento steps forward, and signals for silence. The drama of men's hopes and dreams begins on this the 10th day of May 1869, and YOU ARE HERE!

(If desired, Major Cogswell and the Mormon Band Leader lead the audience in song at this time. Divide the audience down the center into two equal groups and have each half portray a different band.)

Mills: Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you. We are gathered here to join the ends of the earth, to join the raw riches of the American West with the finished products of the industrial East. We also meet with mixed feelings; with joy that the work of thousands of men has joined the railroad, and with sorrow we remember the hundreds of men who gave their lives in building the railroad. They finished six years ahead of the time allowed. We are honored to see a number of Pacific Railroad officials here today. We are pleased to have reporters from some of America's great newspapers. The telegrapher, Mr. Shilling, is keeping the entire nation informed of today's events. We are happy to have the soldiers of the 21st U.S. Infantry here with their band, commanded by Major Cogswell. A second band, with their new instruments, is from the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. Now, to give thanks to God, may I welcome Reverend Todd from Massachusetts.

(Reverend Todd comes forward. Todd and Mills shake hands.)

Narrator: (Tapping the key as he speaks.) Bulletin! Almost ready. Hats off! Prayer is being offered.

Todd: Let us pray. (Everyone stands quietly for one moment of silence.) Amen.

Narrator: (Tapping the key as he speaks.) Bulletin! We have got done praying. The spike is about to be presented.

(Reverend Todd steps back and Mills steps forward)

Mills: Thank you Reverend Todd. Now I present Dr. Harkness from Sacramento, who will give to Dr. Durant, Vice-President of the Union Pacific, two railroad spikes. Dr. Durant will then place these spikes in holes already made in the polished laurel wood tie (Mills points in the direction of the tie). Ladies and gentlemen, these are not every day spikes, these are GOLDEN SPIKES MADE FROM PURE CALIFORNIA GOLD! (The audience Oohs and Aahs). Dr. Harkness...

(Harkness steps forward and shakes hands with Mills as audience cheers.)

Harkness: Mr. President: The last rail needed to complete the greatest railroad of the world is about to be laid; the last spike needed to join the Atlantic and Pacific is about to be driven. The East and the West have come together. California, where the Pacific Railroad was begun wants to express her appreciation. From her mines of gold she has given a spike, and from her forest she gives the last tie. With them accept the hopes and wishes of her people to the success of your railroad.

(The audience cheers. Harkness gives the spikes to Durant who places them in the prepared holes in the laurel tie, at the outside of each rail.)

Mills: Thank you, Mr. Harkness and Dr. Durant. Now we welcome the gift of two other spikes. One made of silver from Nevada, given by Mr. Tritle (Tritle bows), a candidate for governor of that new state. A spike of iron, silver, and gold given by Governor Safford (Safford bows), the new governor of the Territory of Arizona. Both spikes will be given to Governor Stanford President of the Central Pacific Railroad.

Mr. Tritle: To the iron of the East and the gold of the West, Nevada adds her silver spike to span the continent and wed the oceans.

(Audience cheers. Tritle shakes hands with Stanford and gives him the spike).

Governor Safford: Arizona presents her gift to the railroad that has banded the continent and made a new pathway to commerce.

(Audience cheers. Safford shakes hands with Stanford and gives him the spike.)

(Stanford raises the two spikes into the air, showing them to the audience. Then he places them in the holes of the laurel tie, on the inside of the rails.)

Mills: Now Friends, I present a man of vision and courage. Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the Central Pacific Railroad, Governor Stanford.

(Audience applauds and cheers.)

Stanford: Gentlemen: The Pacific Railroad Companies accept with pride and satisfaction these golden and silver spikes. (While Stanford speaks Durant gets a severe headache, suddenly shows it, and steps over to whisper in Mill's ear). The day is not far away when THREE tracks will be necessary to provide transportation for commerce and travel across the continent (people murmur in disbelief). Now, gentlemen, with your help we will lay the last tie, the last rail, and drive the last spike.

(Audience cheers).

Mills: Thank you, Governor Stanford, for your remarks. We regret that Dr. Durant has asked not to speak. In his place General Dodge, Chief Engineer, will now speak for the Union Pacific. General Dodge...

(As Dodge come forward, he hands a silver maul to Mills and shakes his hand).

Dodge: Gentlemen, Senator Benton said that some day a giant statue of Columbus should be built on the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains, pointing westward to the great route across the continent. You have made this a fact! THIS IS THE WAY TO INDIA! (He raises his hand with the spike and points to the West).

(Excitement grows and cheers increase).

Mills: Thank you, General Dodge. Ladies and gentlemen, we have just about reached that moment for which you and the nation have been waiting for - the driving of the last spike. This silver plated maul donated by Mr. Coe, president of the Union Express Company, will now be used by Governor Stanford and Mr. Durant to make a few taps on the gold and silver spikes.

(Mills gives the silver maul to Governor Stanford who makes a few taps. Stanford then hands the maul to Durant who also taps the spikes).

Mills: At this point we should explain that the last spike is a regular iron spike which can be driven with a maul. Both the spike and the maul are wired to the transcontinental telegraph wire so that the entire nation can hear the blows as the spike is driven. Now ladies and gentlemen, the time has arrived. As Mr. Shilling, the telegrapher, gives the signal over the wire, that the spike is driven, bells and whistles will sound across the nation. Dr. Durant and Governor Stanford will now share the honor of driving the last spike in the Pacific Railroad. Gentlemen, are you ready?

Stanford and Durant: (In unison). We are ready!

Narrator: (Tapping the key as he speaks). Bulletin! All ready now. The spike will soon be driven. The signal will be three dots for the start of the blows.

(Stanford swings the maul and misses the spike. Everyone laughs. Stanford hands the maul to Durant).

(Durant takes the maul, swings and misses. Everyone laughs and cheers).

Durant: Will someone lend a hand? Here, you try it! (The railroad worker steps forward and takes the maul from Durant. With a few swings the iron spike is driven).

Narrator: (Tapping the key as he speaks). Promontory to the country. Bulletin: D-O-N-E Done!

(The audience cheers especially loud, exclaiming "it is finished! and "it is driven!").

Durant: Let's give three cheers for the Central Pacific Railroad! Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!). Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!). Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!).

Stanford: Let's give three cheers for the Union Pacific Railroad! Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!). Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!). Hip, hip... (everyone: HURRAY!).

Last updated: March 19, 2015

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