David Hewes

Hewes House, Hewes Middle School, Hewes Avenue, Hewes Park —David Hewes left his mark on the Tustin area. But before he came to Tustin in 1881, he had achieved fame by providing a golden spike for the ceremony celebrating the linking of East and West by rail at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory.

Learning from Central Pacific Railroad President Leland Stanford that no commemorative was planned for the railroad’s completion, Hewes, a San Francisco contractor, took $400 worth of gold to Schulz, Fischer & Mohrig who cast a 5-5/8 inch long, 14.03 ounce, 17.6 carat spike and engraved on it. May God continue the unity of our Country as the Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the World, names of Central Pacific officials and The Last Spike. As it ended up, four spikes, not one and not all gold, were used during the ceremony on May 10, 1869. Newspaper owner Frederick Marriott commissioned a second gold spike inscribed with this spike the San Francisco News Letter offers its homage to the great work which has joined the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, This month-May, 1869.

Nevada Railroad Commissioner F. A. Tritle ordered a spike forged from 25 ounces of silver. Arizona Territory Governor Anson P. K. Safford offered a 6 inch gold-and-silver-plated iron spike inscribed Ribbed with iron clad in silver and crowned with gold, Arizona presents her offering to the enterprise that has banded a continent and dictated a pathway to commerce. Presented by Governor Safford.

L. W. Coe, Pacific Express Co. president, ordered a maul from Conroy & O’Conner, silver plated by Vanderslice & Co., San Francisco. West Evans, tie contractor for Central Pacific, had San Francisco billiard table manufacturer Strahle & Hughes polish a California laurel tie drilled with four holes, and add a silver plaque engraved The last tie laid on comple­tion of the Pacific Railroad, May, 1869. Traveling to the ceremony by private rail coach, Stanford carried The Last Spike and the ceremonial tie, and accepted the Nevada spike as his train passed through Reno. During the ceremony, Stanford placed California’s spikes in the first and fourth holes of the tie. Union Pacific vice-president Thomas Durant added Arizona and Nevada spikes. All were tapped in with the silver maul, then removed.

The Last Spike was returned to Hewes who donated it in 1892 to Stanford University to be displayed with the silver maul and eventually Nevada’s spike. Arizona’s spike is now in the Smithsonian. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed both the commemorative tie and second gold spike. Replicas are displayed at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, UT. The ceremony is reenacted each May 10 and the second Saturday in August during the Annual Railroader’s Festival.

Here in Tustin a replica of the Golden Spike can be seen at the Tustin Area Museum.