Golden Spike Driven
July 15, 1923

President Harding misses twice and drives it home

 On a hot and sunny day at North Nenana, Alaska Terrirotial Governor Scott Bone inserted the spike into the rail. President Warren G. Harding missed the spike twice and then drove it home to officially complete the construction of the Alaska Railroad.

Harding arrived in Seward on the transport Henderson July 13, 1923 accompanied by his wife and a large entourage including Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior; Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce; Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture; Frederick Gillette, Speaker of the House; Colonel W. J. Greeley, Chief of the Forest Service; and Ike Taylor, Alaska Road Commission.

Equipment used to transport the party included a baggage car, business car B-1, coach (smoker), the sleepers "Fairbanks," "Talkeetna," and "Anchorage," compartment observation car "Kenai," diner "McKinley Park," and compartment observation car "Denali."

Harding spoke in Anchorage on July 13th and also made a side trip to the Chicakaloon coal fields. On the 14th, he stayed at the Curry Hotel (MilePost 248), which was owned and operated by the Railroad.

Charles Ross, who had been present at the ceremony, and later Harry Truman's press secretary, recalls his most vivid memory. Admiral Hugh Rodman, as an expert on Alaska's climate, had advised the reporters to outfit themselves in heavy shirts, heavy underwear, sweaters, galoshes, and leggings to protect against the cold and mosquitoes. Nenana was hot and there were no mosquitoes. The next day in Fairbanks, Harding made a speech at the local baseball park where the temperature was 95 degrees. Three people collapsed from heat prostration. Ross notes in his diary that the wearers of heavy underwear threatened reprisals against Rodman.

On Harding's trip back he stopped for lunch at the Fiarview Inn at Talkeetna. Harding was in poor health at the time and died in San Francisco on his return trip from Alaska.

Rumor has it that Harding brought his mistress along on the trip. Some speculate that Harding's wife poisoned him because of his carrying on. Others say that Harding was poisoned because of his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal.