Object Record

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Catalog Number X1903.03.01
Title DRIVING THE GOLDEN SPIKE
Object Name Painting
Artist Joullin, Amédée (1862-1917)
Dimensions H-183 W-90 inches
Medium Oil on canvas
Date 1903
Notes This painting depicts the ceremony held to celebrate the completion of the Northern Pacific's transcontinental line. The ceremony was held at Gold Creek, Montana (near Drummond), on September 8, 1883. The two central figures in the painting are former President Ulysses S. Grant (holding sledge hammer) and Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific. Other notable figures include Secretary of the Interior Henry Moore Teller, Secretary of State William M. Evarts (who served as principal orator of the event), and a delegation of Crow Indians, whose land the railroad crossed.

The original plans for the ceremony reportedly called for the use of a gold-plated silver spike, hence the title of the painting. Although accounts vary it is now most commonly believed that the spike that was actually used was a plain iron one that was the first spike driven when the construction of the railroad was begun in Minnesota in 1872.
Search Terms Art
Capitol Collection
Northern Pacific Railroad
Ulysses S. Grant
Mural