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A Golden reason behind a new name

By Staff | Oct 11, 2015

The Golden Spike refers to the point along I-90 but also goes back to 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad was completed.

Wow, where did that come from?

Our front page story this week reports that the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) decided to change the name of the new industrial park again.

You remember, it was first called the North Industrial Park. But then when the first occupant was a business and not an industry, the name was changed to the North Business Park.

Early last Thursday morning, the EDA members decided to change it again and came up with Golden Spike Business Park.

I think they thought it might be a catchy name, one that they can use to market the site to business people around the country and entice them to come locate here.

They might be right. Or, maybe those people will just be curious and ask what does the name mean. Either way, it will draw attention to the new site.

To local folks it is obviously a reference to the fact that the mid point of Interstate 90 as it crosses the U.S. is right here in Blue Earth. And that place was celebrated with a “Golden Spike” ceremony when the freeway was completed in 1978.

But maybe most other people don’t know about that.

Of course, the more famous Golden Spike ceremony was a hundred years earlier in 1869, held to celebrate the first transcontinental railroad being completed at a spot in Utah. There is an iconic photograph of that famous event. There they drove a real golden spike into the rail as the final spike that connected east and west.

While there wasn’t any driving in a final spike into the concrete of I-90, there was a golden strip of concrete laid.

The bronze plaque at the Blue Earth I-90 rest stop tells the story better than I can. Here it is:

The nation celebrated completion of Interstate 90 after contractors paved the last four miles of freeway near Blue Earth in 1978.

Reminiscent of the “Golden Spike” that symbolized completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad in 1869, officials arranged to tint a small section of I-90’s pavement gold. Also, like the two locomotives that met at the juncture of the transcontinental railroad to represent east meeting west, two Minnesota National Guard trucks met at the union of I-90, a National Interstate Defense Highway.

Officials praised the new highway, citing its promise of safer and faster travel linking the nation.

Celebrants, including national and state officials, contractors, Miss America and area residents, gathered in the area now occupied by the Blue Earth Rest Areas. Many attendees received pens with the inscription “I-90 Golden Spike Dedication, Sept. 23, 1978.”

The celebration included a flyover by the Minnesota Air National Guard jets and the debut of a 56-foot tall replica of the Jolly Green Giant which has overlooked the City of Blue Earth ever since. After the ribbon cutting, attended by 2,500 people, a line of vintage cars and trucks crossed the gold pavement.

Planning for the $256 million project started in 1958. Stretching from Boston to Seattle, I-90 is the nation’s longest and the most northernmost east-to-west, coast-to-coast interstate. At 70 mph, it would take a motorist 44 hours to travel its length.

Like most other interstate highways, I-90 lived up to expectations by providing faster and safer travel. The Interstates brought other changes, both positive and negative. Some communities experienced economic growth while others suffered as business moved away from older highways.

I-90’s impact in southern Minnesota continues to shape the region.

Those last couple of statements on the plaque may be the perfect reason to name Blue Earth’s new industrial park after the symbolic “Golden Spike.” After all, we are still looking for economic growth with this project.