ARDEN – Back in May 1869, Leland Stanford hammered a spike into the ground that made history.
The tycoon drove the final spike for the First Transcontinental Railroad in what was then the Territory of Utah. The railroad knitted together the far-flung nation, and, to mark the occasion, the spike was made of copper-alloyed gold.
One-hundred-fifty years and 1,900 miles removed from the Transcontinental Railroad’s final spike, Washington County’s commissioners were among the VIPs driving in the final spikes Friday for a new bridge and platform at the Washington County Fairgrounds that will further intertwine the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum to the fairgrounds.
The project was completed just before the kickoff of the Washington County Agricultural Fair, which starts Sunday and continues through Aug. 17. It was paid for by the county and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Among other things, it includes almost 1,300 square feet of new or newly reconstructed track and overhead trolley wire, four new warning signals at crossings, and a platform long enough to accommodate two trolleys on each of two tracks.
It took more than 5,000 hours to finish, with volunteers from the trolley museum carrying out the design work, the construction of the signal systems, overseeing work by local contractors and other tasks.
Scott Becker, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, called it “a community project with a capital C.”
Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi described it as “a showcase in Washington County.” He was one of the people who drove in the final stakes, along with fellow commissioners Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan Shober, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, and Larry Lovejoy, the director of engineering for the trolley museum.
Work on the project commenced the day after last year’s fair ended. The overall cost was about $1.4 million, partially paid for through the county’s local share account of gambling revenue derived from The Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
Trolleys will ferry visitors to the fair from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. They will depart every 10 to 15 minutes from the Eaton parking lot, located at 2800 N. Main St.