Local man finds Golden Spike

By Matt Bunke, Community Editor

In at least one instance in the past, clues to the location of the hidden Golden Spike have been so cryptic that it’s taken more than a week for anybody to find, with clues running all the way into Rails To Trails weekend.

That certainly wasn’t the case this year. Either that, or Ryan Hartshorn is a really good treasure hunter.

Hartshorn, of Watertown, found the Golden Spike – the hunt for which is an annual tradition the week prior to the Rails to Trails festival – after just three clues. Hartshorn, who won $300 in Caleb’s Cash as a result, found the spike on Tuesday evening near the end of a paved trail behind a fallen tree in Riverpointe Park.

"I got lucky, plain and simple," he said. "I didn’t think I’d run into it."

Hartshorn was just leaving the park when he noticed just the tip of the spike – about an inch – sticking out of the ground, along with the very top of a can of Arnold Palmer Ginger Ale, which the spike was inside of. One of the clues made reference to golf and Arnie Palmer.

That wasn’t the clue that tipped off Hartshorn to the location. The best clue, he said, referenced an Angel, which he assumed meant the spike was located somewhere along Angel Avenue, or possibly near a church that had some sort of an angel on it.

While the spike wasn’t on Angel Avenue – the street doesn’t extend that far to Riverpointe Park – it was on the same parallel. It was located among some weeds and amongst the bugs – clues also referenced itching and bugs – and near the fishing pier at the park. One of the clues mentioned recreation. Hartshorn said he had just been fishing with his son at the pier the day before, and that, along with the weedy areas and bugs, pointed him in the right direction.

Hartshorn said he has hunted for the spike for the last five years, usually along with his neighbor, John Hyde. The two typically bounce ideas off one another.

In years past, Hartshorn said he has spent as many as 15-25 hours searing. This year, he needed to spend only about an hour in search of the prize.

For those who are curious, here’s a look at the clues that were available to Hartshorn – the first three – as well as the ones that would have been made available throughout the rest of the week:

Clue #1

The annual Rails to Trails Celebration is back

Caleb’s Cash is your reward (300.00)

The Golden Spike hunt is a natural

Have fun in Watertown

Clue #2

The Golden Spike can be found

Get out and look for the Spike

An angel will guide you to the prize

Itching to find the prize, the lucky spot will really bug you.

Clue #3

Your knowledge of golf will help you

Arnie Palmer is your friend

4 x 2 = 8

Recreation and fun is the Rails to Trails Celebration

Clue #4

There are acres to search for the Golden Spike

A famous historical figure will lead you south

You will be lured to this destination by the beauty of the area

This is your path to success

Clue #5:

Angling for a Clue

Treasure hunting is fun

The river will point the way

Water, water everywhere, if you are lucky, you will see a deer.

Clue #6:

Birds are very important

The Golden Spike Hunt is almost done

No Life Guard on Duty

No motorized vehicles allowed

Clue #7

Go directly to River Point Park

Find a bench on the river next to a large rock

Go 43 ft to end of paved trail

Go 15 feet behind a fallen tree, the Golden Spike reward is yours