harding-spike
July 15, 1923. "Driving the Spike." (As indicated by marks) President Harding, Herbert Hoover, Mrs. Harding

 

Getting ready to drive the spike

History Label

On July 15, 1923 President Harding drove in the Golden Spike signifying completion of the Alaska Railroad. This event occurred at milepost 413.7 at the northern end of the 702 foot Mears Memorial truss bridge. Returning from the Alaska trip, Harding died suddenly of a heart attack on August 2, 1923.

Summary of President Harding's Alaska Trip

Search Label

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to locate this highly significant piece of Alaska Railroad memorabilia. Here is a summary of the resources I checked:

Success!

On April 14, 2010 I was contacted by Ben Nysewander who informed me he is the current owner of the golden spike. In one of his emails, he stated, "I just happened on to your website and thought I would let you know where the spike was. There seemed to be alot of people interested in locating it." Thank you Ben! You have brought my search to a very exciting end.

Additionally, Ben said, "I purchased the spike from the estate of Mr. Fred Johnson, of the California Arms Collectors Association in 1983. It is engraved 'Presented to Col. Fredrick Mears by the City of Anchorage in commemoration of the building of the Alaska Railroad 1915-1923'. The reverse side is stamped 'Jos. Mayer Inc. Makers Seattle USA, 14K'. I also have letters from Mayer Bros. and the Alaska 67 committee to Mr Johnson addressing his loaning the spike to them for the 1967 Exposition in Fairbanks. I would enjoy hearing from others who have an interest in the gold spike."

When I asked Ben what he thought the spike was worth, he replied, "I turned down an offer from an antique dealer for $20,000. For now I have little interest in selling it."

Here are the items Ben sent:

Spike photos 1, 2, 3

 

Many, many thanks to Ben Nysewander for providing this information!
 

Page created 9/5/97 and last updated 6/18/10
© 1997-2010 John Combs unless otherwise noted