Steam Festival at Golden Spike cancelled due to government shutdown

PROMONTORY SUMMIT – The current federal government shutdown is affecting an annual event in Box Elder County this week. The Winter Steam Festival at Golden Spike National Historic Site was scheduled to take place Dec. 28, 29 and 30.

“Due to the federal government shutdown Golden Spike National Historic Site has cancelled the 2018 Winter Steam Festival,” says an alert on their website.

Another alert says the site’s website will not be updated and may not reflect current conditions. It also says some national parks will remain open during the shutdown but access could change without much notice. Other parks are closed completely.

“For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance,” the alert says.

The Winter Steam Festival features locomotive No. 119 making five demonstrations throughout the day. Holding the festival in December allows visitors to see more of the steam coming out of the trains than they would normally see during the summer. Free hot chocolate was going to be handed out and a ranger program, “It’s Snow Challenge: Snow Removal on the Transcontinental Railroad”, was scheduled to educate visitors on how snow was cleared from the tracks and the difficulties encountered by the Central Pacific Railroad as they built across the Sierra Nevadas.

Next year is the 150th anniversary of the driving of a golden railroad spike connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rail lines. In May, Rep. Rob Bishop introduced a measure to make the site a National Historic Park. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the plan in June. Sen. Orrin Hatch has proposed a similar measure in the U.S. Senate. An historic park is different from a national park and is a designation used for sites such as Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace in Kentucky and Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

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