Celebrating the Golden Spike


EXHIBIT LOCATION |  Utah State Railroad Museum

Gold Spike Safe

On May 10, 1869, the Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad was ceremonially driven into a polished laurel railroad tie at Promontory Summit, Utah. David Hewes who would later become brother-in-law to Central Pacific Railroad President and former California Governor, Leland Stanford presented him with the spike.  Upon returning to California, Stanford returned the spike to David Hewes who later donated it to Stanford Museum.

goldspikesafejpgThe original “Last “ Gold Spike of 1869 resided in the “Gold Spike Safe” at the museum at Stanford University in California for years.  The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused extensive damage to the Stanford museum where the spike and safe were on display.  Wells Fargo Bank stored the spike in a vault for safekeeping until the Stanford museum reopened as the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in 1999 where the Gold Spike was again placed on display.  The “Gold Spike Safe”, no longer needed, moved to the Stanford University Archives.  The safe remained in storage, until 2010 when it was donated through Wells Fargo Bank to the Union Station Foundation for display in the Utah State Railroad Museum.

The safe arrived by truck at Union Station on a rainy April day in 2010.  It took 6 people and a forklift to get it inside the building. The earthquake damage to the exterior of the safe was repaired and repainted soon after arrival at the Utah State Railroad Museum.  The Golden Spike Safe exhibit was dedicated on March 8, 2011. SCROLL DOWN FOR A VIDEO OF SAFES ARRIVAL

Another interesting bit of “Spike “ trivia is that David Hewes had ordered 2 identical golden spikes to be cast back in 1869, later known as the “Last” spike and the “Lost” spike.  The lost spike turned up suddenly in 2005 as David Hewes’ descendants put it up for auction among other family treasures; fortuitously the spike was acquired by the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento where it is beautifully displayed. READ MORE ABOUT THE LOST SPIKE



Utah Centennial Golden Spikecentennial-gold-spike

In celebration of Utah’s 100 years since being granted statehood a replica of the Golden Spike was created.  The Utah Centennial Golden Spike is on display inside the Gold Spike Safe in the museum. As with the original golden spike the sprue resulting from the casting process was cut off and cast into mementos of the centennial.  The Union Station Foundation possesses in its collection a small gold ice skate cast from the centennial sprue.  The Utah Centennial Golden Spike is on display in the museum thanks to a long term loan for the Utah State Treasurers Office.