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Steam locomotives Jupiter and Union Pacific No. 119: Striking symbols of one of the most important periods in American history

David Goran

The “Jupiter” (officially known as Central Pacific Railroad #60) has great historical significance because of its role in the development of America’s railroad. It was a 4-4-0 steam locomotive which made history as one of the two locomotives (the other being the Union Pacific No. 119) to meet at Promontory Summit during the Golden Spike ceremony commemorating the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The Jupiter leads the train that carried Leland Stanford, one of the “Big Four“ owners of the Central Pacific Railroad, and other railway officials to the Golden Spike Ceremony. Photo Credit

The Jupiter leads the train that carried Leland Stanford, one of the “Big Four“ owners of the Central Pacific Railroad, and other railway officials to the Golden Spike Ceremony.

 

This classic American locomotive carved its way into history with the taming of the Wild West. Photo Credit

This classic American locomotive carved its way into history with the taming of the Wild West. Photo Credit

The Jupiter was built in September 1868 by the Schenectady Locomotive Works of New York, along with three other engines, numbered 61, 62, and 63 and named the Storm, Whirlwind, and Leviathan.

The locomotive weighed 65,400 pounds, had 60-inch driving wheels and cylinders that measured 16 by 24 inches. Photo Credit

The locomotive weighed 65,400 pounds, had 60-inch driving wheels and cylinders that measured 16 by 24 inches. Photo Credit

 

It burned wood for fuel and generated a tractive force of 10,790 pounds. Photo Credit

It burned wood for fuel and generated a tractive force of 10,790 pounds. Photo Credit

On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad’s “Jupiter” touched cowcatchers with the Union Pacific R.R. at Promontory Point, Utah, completing the first transcontinental rail link across the United States. On that date, Stanford, an American tycoon, industrialist, politician, and a co-founder of Stanford University, and Union Pacific Vice President Thomas C. Durant drove the famous golden spikes symbolizing the end of a six-year construction program to connect the two railroads.

Celebration of completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, May 10, 1869, showing the name Jupiter on the side of the tender. Photo Credit

The Celebration of completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, May 10, 1869, showing the name Jupiter on the side of the tender. 

 

Replicas of the Jupiter and the Union Pacific No. 119 at Golden Spike NHS. Photo Credit

Replicas of the Jupiter and the Union Pacific No. 119 at Golden Spike NHS. Photo Credit

The original “Jupiter” was scrapped long ago. Both replica locomotive at Promontory Point (Jupiter and the 119) were constructed in 1980 for the National Park Service by Chadwell O’Connor Engineering Laboratories of Costa Mesa, CA. It was built with $1.5 million in federal funds.

No. 119 replica at Golden Spike N.H.S. Photo Credit

No. 119 replica at Golden Spike N.H.S. Photo Credit

 

Jupiter replica at Golden Spike N.H.S. Photo Credit

Jupiter replica at Golden Spike N.H.S. Photo Credit

In 1974, the National Park Service had approached O’Connor Engineering Laboratories of Costa Mesa, California, to construct exact full-size replicas of the Jupiter and Union Pacific 119. They accepted the challenge of reproducing “Jupiter” and “119” as they were at the Golden Spike Ceremony.

Built with $1.5 million in federal funds, these were the first steam engines constructed in the United States in twenty-five years. Photo Credit

Built with $1.5 million in federal funds, these were the first steam engines constructed in the United States in twenty-five years. Photo Credit

With no plans or blueprints, engineers and technicians set out to build the historic American Standard 4-4-0 locomotives. Ward Kimball, one of the six original Disney animators, was given the task of painting the replicas. The Jupiter was given a bright red paint scheme with gold leafing, typical of locomotives built in the 1870s. The striking colors chosen by Kimball became the accepted identity for the locomotives. The replicas were completed in 1979 and began operations on May 10 of that year, 110 years after the original Golden Spike ceremony, and continue to make demonstration runs.

the new Jupiter and 119 were commissioned into service on May 10, 1979, the 110th Anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony. Photo Credit

The new Jupiter and 119 were commissioned into service on May 10, 1979, the 110th Anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony. Photo Credit

 

They were painted and lettered by Disney employees and are incredibly accurate replicas of the originals. Photo Credit

They were painted and lettered by Disney employees and are incredibly accurate replicas of the originals. Photo Credit

 

This engine was scrapped in 1903, and a replica was built in 1979, 76 years after the scrapping. Photo Credit

This engine was scrapped in 1903, and a replica was built in 1979, 76 years after the scrapping. Photo Credit

 

Between 1979 and 1993 thousands of visitors came to Golden Spike National Historic site and viewed the replicas of the Jupiter and 119. Photo Credit

Between 1979 and 1993 thousands of visitors came to Golden Spike National Historic site and viewed the replicas of the Jupiter and 119. Photo Credit

Now, almost 150 years later, the Golden Spike Ceremony is considered one of the most important milestones in 19th Century American history. Events are held around the country, but mostly at the Union Station in Ogden Utah and the Golden Spike Historic Site where they reenact the driving of the Golden Spike.