Derek Miller: The Golden Spike marks Utah's greatest leap forward

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    April 29, 2019 8:11 p.m.

    “With the driving of the Golden Spike, crossing the country went from weeks to hours.”

    Not quite. In the book “Nothing Like It In the World “ Stephen Ambrose writes,

    “Before the Mexican War, during the Gold Rush that started in 1848, through the 1850s, and until after the Civil War ended in 1865, it took a person months and might cost more than $ 1,000 to go from New York to San Francisco. But less than a week after the pounding of the Golden Spike, a man or woman could go from New York to San Francisco in seven days. That included stops”

    And as a great granddaughter of a Mormon grader, may I correct @RedRocket by saying that the Union Pacific would have been up a creek had it not been for the pivotal role played by those Mormon graders. They prepared the way without the use of machinery and, in most cases, were never paid for their work..

  • Red Rocket St George, UT
    April 25, 2019 10:57 a.m.

    The only pivitol role Utah played was being there.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2019 7:52 a.m.

    @NoNames "Both were massive government projects sub-contracted out to private builders. That is closer to socialism than capitalism."

    In modern capitalism government SERVES capital. The great problem for this system is labor's struggle to stay above water. This is true to this day (btw labor was treated horribly in the Transcontinental Railroad construction, LDS were never paid!).

  • WeThePeople Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2019 12:29 a.m.

    The Transcontinental Railroad was a Very Bad Thing for the people of Utah. Utah had been a religious refuge for the Deserving, who had faith to cross the plains. But after the railroad, all kinds of people came to Utah. These were "bad hombres!"

    They brought corrupt government, mining, and alcohol to Utah. They took an orderly and righteous society, and corrupted it.

    I am glad that Utah is still a righteous and morally pure place to live. But just think of what it would be like if everyone followed the wise counsel of our Prophets, like they did before the railroad came.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 24, 2019 8:09 p.m.

    I greatly enjoyed this brief article.

    My only complaint is with the headline. Great as it was for the nation and the State, I do not believe the transcontinental railroad was Utah's "greatest leap forward."

    I believe the State's/area's greatest leap forward was when the main body of Mormon Pioneers arrived on 24 July, 1847 and proceeded to make the desert blossom as the rose through water works, farming, and building.

    A third of our nation was unihabitable until the building of reservoirs, diversion of water, and control of spring floods were effected. What the Pioneers did in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and then elsewhere throughout the territory of Deseret preceded the greate federal water projects on the Colorado.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 24, 2019 7:50 p.m.

    @marxist: "Yes indeed, this was a major global historical event. It presaged the content of American capitalism - dynamic and corrupt."

    Capitalism? Better study history a bit closer.

    The building of the transcontinental railroad was about as capitalistic as was building the Inter-State Freeway System (more formally known as "The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways"). Both were massive government projects sub-contracted out to private builders. That is closer to socialism than capitalism.

    And precisely because of that, the building of the railroad was rife with corruption. Nothing has changed in that regard when it comes to government building fixed rail for mass transit purposes today.

    Much good--economic and otherwise--came of it despite the corruption in the construction. But let's be very clear about which system is at fault here. And free market capitalism is not.

    Massive govt contracts, full power of eminent domain, private profits with public costs: these are not capitalism, but socialism.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 24, 2019 7:44 p.m.

    @Liberal Mormon: "..would make it much more progressive than it is..."

    Utah has a long history of being progressive in the right ways, while properly avoiding aspects of progressivism that don't work.

    We were the first territory to grant women the vote. The water works that enable us to live here through drought and flood cycles required central planning and communities working together. We carefully preserved mountain areas. We voted an income tax to fund universal education.

    Recently, the Utah Compromise on anti-discrimination while respecting religious freedoms is a model for the nation. In the 90s, we were an early adopter of non-discriminatory permits to carry firearms that enable minorities and the poor equal ability to defend themselves as the rich or well connected. We enjoy 70 and 80 mph speed limits.

    We have the highest upward economic mobility in the nation, fueled in large part by cooperation between govt and church aid helping people rise out of poverty.

    All this supported by a robust economy unhampered by confiscatory taxes, excessive regulation, or other bad aspects of progressivism.

    Mourn? Celebrate the best managed State. Try finding a better place to live.

  • Liberal Mormon Salt Lake City, UT
    April 24, 2019 9:55 a.m.

    From the article: "Utah has been connected to the world since early in its founding. Utah was settled by thousands who came from faraway places around the world. Today, thousands of Utahns go out to the world and return home with newfound diversity of thought and experience."

    My take: It's a shame, one would think this kind of unique quality to a state would make it much more progressive than it is. Indeed, it was much more progressive than it currently is. I mourn this.

  • Culture Warrior Salt Lake City, UT
    April 24, 2019 9:46 a.m.

    These kind of featurey op/eds give me life. Great thing to read in a local paper. Thank you!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 24, 2019 9:00 a.m.

    Yes indeed, this was a major global historical event. It presaged the content of American capitalism - dynamic and corrupt. The Credit Mobilier was corrupt in the extreme. Today's capitalism and its president are the children of this event. Let's celebrate it - sure. But let's also reflect - hard - on its legacy and what it means for us going forward.