Completion of the Pacific Railroad
Golden Spike Ceremony
Promontory Summit, Utah
May 10, 1869
According to the NPS Historical Handbook, "Edgar Mills, a Sacramento businessman, served as master of ceremonies and introduced the Rev. Dr. John Todd of Pittsfield, Mass., correspondent for the Boston Congregationalist and the New York Evangelist. Dr. Todd opened the ceremony with a 2-minute prayer, while telegraph operators from Atlantic to Pacific cleared the wires for the momentous clicks from Promontory. At 12:40 p.m., W. N. Shilling, a telegraph key on a small table in front of him, tapped out: 'We have got done praying. The spike is about to be presented.' "
David Bain notes that Reverend Todd composed a travel memoir which included some very general recollections of the Golden Spike ceremony, but which does not include the prayer: The Sunset Land: or, The Great Pacific Slope, Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1870.
Also by Rev John Todd is California and Its Wonders, T. Nelson and Sons, NY 1884, 208pp., and the brief article "Completion of the Pacific Railroad" in The Normal Fourth Reader, by Raub, Albert N., et al., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Porter and Coates, 1878, 1884.
Edson T. Strobridge found that the High Road to Promontory, by George Kraus, American West Publishing Co., 1969, p. 274, ¶2, describes the events as the crowds were gathered for the driving of the gold spike ceremony including the prayer given just prior to the laying of the last two rails and the formal opening of the ceremony.
The Rev. Dr. Todd, of Massachusetts. Offered a dedicatory prayer:
Our father and God, and our fathers' God, God of Creation and God of Providence, thou hast created the heavens and the earth, the valleys and the hills; Thou art also the God of mercies and blessings. We rejoice that thou hast created the human mind with its power of invention, its capacity of expansion, and its guardian of success. We have assembled here this day, upon the height of the continent, from varied sections of our country, to do homage to thy wonderful name, in that thou hast brought this mighty enterprise, combining the commerce of the east with the gold of the west to so glorious a completion. And now we ask thee that this great work, so auspiciously begun and so magnificently completed, may remain a monument to our faith and good works. We here consecrate this great highway for the good of thy people. O God, we implore thy blessings upon it and upon those that may direct its operations. O Father, God of our fathers, we desire to acknowledge thy handiwork in this great work, and ask thy blessing upon us here assembled, upon the rulers of our government and upon thy people everywhere; that peace may flow unto them as a gentle stream, and that this mighty enterprise may be unto us as the Atlantic of thy strength, and the Pacific of thy love. Through Jesus, the Redeemed, Amen.
Courtesy Edson T. Strobridge.