Monday, May 15, 2006

'Golden' site lacks a piece of its luster

"'Golden' site lacks a piece of its luster" by Lee Benson, © Deseret Morning News, May 15, 2006. (News Article)

"GOLDEN SPIKE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE — Just one nagging little problem here at the place that has now been officially designated to be Utah's signature on the state's new commemorative quarters. ... The golden spike isn't here. ... Promontory Summit these days ... Everything here is newer than it looks. The ties, the rails, even the steam locomotives — all replicas. The whole place is a movie set, a modern tribute to that historic moment ... It was only fortunate timing that landed the historic event in Utah. A hundred miles to the east and it would have been in Wyoming, a hundred miles to the west, Nevada. ... Small wonder the vast majority of Utahns are of the opinion that the golden spike image should be on our new quarter. But how many of them know the golden spike isn't at the Golden Spike National Historic Site? It was at Promontory only until 1892 [sic], when an art museum opened at a California university and the famous spike was shipped there for display. ... The university? Stanford. ... The spike is still there. It doesn't somehow seem right, does it? It would be like moving the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia, the Alamo out of Texas, Old Faithful out of Yellowstone, the London Bridge out of London. The golden spike belongs in Utah. And pretty soon, we'll have the quarters to prove it. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

To: Lee Benson

The golden last spike was at Promontory for at most a couple of days; Leland Stanford promptly returned it to donor David Hewes' possession. What made you think that "the Golden Spike ... was at Promontory ... until 1892"?

Promontory Summit in 1869 was just a tent city, and the junction of CPRR and UPRR was promptly moved to Ogden.

"May 10, 1869? – After the ceremony at Promontory Leland Stanford is reported to have reached down and lifted the spike from its hole and then dropped it casually into the side pocket of his coat. Later he ran into David Hewes and handed him the spike, no doubt saying something like, 'Here, Dave, you keep this. I don't need it.' Hewes took it, and kept it until? 1892, when he donated it, along with his quite valuable art collection, to the newly-opened Stanford Museum. The paintings included one each by DaVinci, del Sarto, Perugino, Tintoretto, Cellini, Rubens, Van Dyke, Fra Angelico, and Michelangelo, and four by Raphael a galaxy that quite outshone the little gold spike which cost Hewes $425.24 all told. Incidentally, we should note here that Stanford University had just first opened its doors to students October 1, 1891."

"The spike was on exhibition in San Francisco and later in Sacramento before going to the 'front.' After the ceremony it was removed from the 'last' tie, brought back to California, and returned to the donor in whose possession it remained until it was given in 1892, as part of his art collection, to Stanford University. In 1936 the university deposited the spike in the Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco, with arrangements for its exhibit daily in the history room; on November 1, 1954, it was returned to the university where it now reposes in the museum."

Incidently, the 'lost' Hewes family gold spike (the other Hewes spike probably not used at Promontory) has recently been found and is now at the California State Railroad Museum where it was just shown to the public for the first time.

The Nevada silver spike is with the gold "last" spike at Stanford University. "Sidney Dillon (of the UP) had the Arizona spike." "The spike presented by Arizona Territory was a composite made from plating an ordinary 6 inch iron spike with gold on the head (upper portion) and silver on the shaft (lower portion). ... By 1943, the Arizona Territory spike was in the possession of Mrs. Arthur Whitney of Mendham, New Jersey, who donated it in that year to the Museum of the City of New York, which retains ownership of the spike. ... The Museum of the City of New York lent the spike for many years to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. It is currently on loan to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa."

But there is yet another gold last spike from the San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser that is still missing.

The new Utah quarter is also confusing, because of the way it displays the date for Utah statehood with a depiction of the golden spike ceremony.

5/15/2006 11:06 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


I see Utah is still using a boat spike instead of a railroad spike on their quarter.


7/08/2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Not surprised to find a boat spike on the Utah quarter, after all, Promontory POINT is at the South end of a long peninsula jutting into Great Salt Lake........the only thing with locomotion there is a boat!


7/08/2007 12:18 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin Bunker"

Let's hope Utah's commemorative quarter doesn't end up saying say "Promontory Point" – if it does, all hope is lost.... And of course, since it says UTAH 1896" above the locomotives that will likely see whole new round of misdating the 1869 event since idiots and illiterates will misconstrue the date of Utah's entry into the Union as a state with the date of the Last Spike ceremony...


7/08/2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See additional discussion.

7/08/2007 6:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Recent Messages