WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) — A group of students from Neil Armstrong Academy is busy working on the Spikes2Utah campaign to bring back from California the spikes that were used to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
“It’s part of Utah history, and Utah history matters to us,” said Damon Christensen, a fourth-grade student at Neil Armstrong Academy.
According to Spikes2Utah, the students are trying to gather enough letters from the public to be submitted to the Cantor Arts Center in Palo Alto, California, at Stanford University, where the Golden Spike, Silver Spike and the hammer that was used to tap in the spikes are displayed.
The transcontinental railroad was completed at the Promontory Summit in northern Utah back in 1869. To celebrate the occasion, a small crowd reportedly dropped four spikes into holes to signify the “Wedding of the Rails,” which also included the famous “Golden Spike” that was dropped in last.
When fourth-grade students from Neil Armstrong Academy learned about the history of the Golden Spike, they were surprised to hear that the historic memorabilia are not displayed in Utah but in a museum in California.
“To see it not be here makes me kind of sad because the history was made here… should belong here,” said Jovie Stringfellow, a fourth-grade student.
When their teacher David Pendleton went to see the golden spike on a trip, he was surprised at what he found on display.
“There wasn’t anything defining it; nothing explaining the history of it,” Pendleton said. “We started thinking about it more and realized, ‘Hey, if we’re gonna do this, we are gonna do it right.'”
This inspired Pendleton to create a class assignment that turned into a full-blown letter-writing campaign asking to get the Golden Spike back to Utah.
“We’re trying to fill their museum with thousands of letters,” said fourth grader Damon Christensen. “I was like, ‘This was gonna be a lot of hard work, but I am not afraid of hard work. Hard work is my middle name.'”
If the campaign is successful, the Golden Spike, Silver Spike and the maul will be housed in the new Utah State Museum on Capitol Hill, which remains under construction.
The deadline for the campaign is Friday, May 26. The public could either submit a digital letter on the campaign’s website or send in a handwritten letter to the Academy.