The Union Pacific Railroad is a big part of the Council Bluffs community, and with it comes the history. Part of the local history includes Union Pacific, a Cecil B. DeMille movie that premiered in the neighboring city of Omaha, Nebraska, in 1939.
To attract attention to their own community, Council Bluffs erected a 56-foot-tall railroad spike for the movie premiere. The Golden Spike is 100 times the size of a normal spike. Union Pacific designated the location as Mile Post Zero to help with drawing attention to the site. On April 28, 1939, during the dedication of the Gold Spike, DeMille himself said he expected the monument to last 100 years.
The monument was built in 1939 by the railway tracks, as most of the tourists came via train. In 1955, there was talk about moving the spike to an area that was more automobile-friendly, as by then, most people drove into town. The plans to move the massive structure fell through, and for decades, the spike fell into decay. Fortunately, it has since been preserved.
Know Before You Go
The spike is in a public area and free to see. It's probably best to view it during daylight hours, even though the area is open 24 hours a day. There is a small parking lot east of the monument.
The Lincoln Monument of Council Bluffs. It's another great piece of local railroad history.