1. Chinese hired in 1864 also worked on the wagon road from Dutch Flat (Mile 67/Kilometer 107.8) to Donner Lake (Mile 117/Kilometer 188). Gangs lived together and hired their own cook and, in many cases, a medical practitioner who attended to illness and injury. The Pacific Railway Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 1, 1862. There are conflicting accounts of how the work was carried out. Eyewitness accounts confirm that it was the Chinese who laid the last rail of the transcontinental.2. From 1863 and 1869, roughly 15,000 Chinese workers helped build the transcontinental railroad. 3 John Hoyt Williams, A Great and Shining Road: The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroad (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988), 98. It took the mostly Chinese workforce a year to blast out a three-mile/four-kilometer roadbed curving along steep terrain high above the North Fork of the American River. Deemed social and political pariahs, Chinese faced extreme racist violence, and they were pushed to the margins of society, and to the margins of public memory and historical scholarship. William F. Chew, Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad: The Chinese Workers of the Central Pacific Railroad (Bloomington, IN: Trafford, 2003), 40-45. How do we find sources to uncover this forgotten 1 The National Park Service has produced the most thorough study of the Golden Spike site and ceremony: Robert L. Spude, with the assistance of Todd Delyea, Promontory Summit, May 10, 1869 (US National Park Service, Intermountain Region, Cultural Resources Management, 2005). They buy also pork of the butcher, and on holidays they eat poultry.” Many of these foodstuffs came from California sources, such as fresh vegetables, but others had to be imported. The exhibition features a century-old pair of chopsticks, as well as canisters for tea and soy sauce. The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) would extend east from Sacramento across the Sierras and Nevada to meet the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) that stretched west through the plains from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. Workers hung by ropes tied around their waist; or they leaned against bosun’s chairs. Primary documents from Stanford University website, Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project. Some suggest that many of their demands were met some time after the strike, thereby allowing Crocker to “save face.”, Critics of the railroad asserted that the Chinese were “coolies,” and not free labor. From the 1850s to 1882, they were tolerated in the US, but not accepted as peers. ©2018 Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University. Chinese also went on to build the railroad from Sacramento down San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles. A group of their descendants is trying to change that. Bloomer Cut, 38 miles/61 kilometers from Sacramento, ended up being 800 feet/243 meters long and 63 feet/19.2 meters high, and workers dug a trough through naturally cemented gravel and hard clay with picks, shovels and black powder.1 This was the first major engineering challenge for the railroad, and it was dangerous work. See also J. N. Bowman, “Driving the Last Spike at Promontory 1869,” Utah Historical Quarterly 37 (Winter 1969): 76. The Chinese had already established a significant presence in the United States before the call for a transcontinental railroad came about. Students will analyze primary source photographs and political cartoons and work with data to color code sources of immig Plate 227. The railroad was completed to Winnemucca, 325 miles/523 kilometers from Sacramento, on Oct. 1, 1868, and the town became a center for Chinese life. “I stopped the provisions on them,” Crocker later boasted in his testimony to Congress, “stopped the butchers from butchering, and used such coercive measures.” After eight days food ran low and the workers began to suffer, and Crocker, along with construction supervisor James Strobridge, the local Sherriff, and a contingent of deputized white men, confronted leaders of the workers, insisting that he would make no concessions and threatened violence to anyone preventing workers from returning to the job. 3 Early descriptions of workers hanging by ropes at Cape Horn appear in Bill Dad, Great Trans-Continental Railroad Guide (Chicago: G. A. Crofutt, 1869), 202; Henry Morford, Morford’s Scenery and Sensation Handbook of the Pacific Railroads and California (New York: Chas. When the time came, the company would send a paymaster in a wagon accompanied by armed guards on horseback and interpreters (Sam Thayer from the company knew several Chinese dialects and he was joined by a Chinese interpreter). They are given names, family lives, homes, spiritual beliefs, and agency. 4 Erle Heath, “A Railroad Record that Defies Defeat: How Central Pacific laid ten miles of track in one day back in 1869,” Southern Pacific Bulletin, Vol. Protecting the UP This scan is the text of war department correspondence regarding Gen. William T. Sherman's 1867 order to provide military protection to trains on the UP route. Many believe that laboring in baskets could have actually hindered their task, since a worker would not be able to use his feet to maneuver.2 An article in The Overland Monthly in 1869 describes how workers “were suspended by ropes from above, the chain-bearers signaling to those holding the ropes, up and down, forward or back” to prepare for drilling and blasting. 44th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Report 689 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1877), 723. Courtesy of The Alfred A. Hart Photo Collection, Special Collections, Stanford University. In 1869, the dream was made a reality at Promontory Point, Utah with the connection of two railway lines. The image of Chinese laborers hanging from baskets to do such hazardous work has appeared in many graphic images, literary representations, and histories, and this image became the stuff of legends. Most came from southern China and hoped to escape the poverty and social unrest that characterized their homeland. The terrain was a bit easier once they reached the high desert of Nevada and Utah, but there they had to contend with extreme heat, long supply lines, and the breakneck speed of construction. In early 1864 workers began blasting and digging through steep terrain on the Bloomer Ranch near Auburn to create a level grade for tracks. Courtesy of The Alfred A. Hart Photo Collection, Special Collections, Stanford University. “Historians have always known and written about the Chinese workers, but it’s forgotten by society,” said Peter Liebhold, who co-curated the exhibit with Sam Vong. In the end 25,800 ties, 3,520 rails (averaging 560 lbs. Transcontinental Railroad course reader. A similar “wholesale” scheme was done for the Native Americans working on the line.1. Workers were let down into the tunnel and lifted out through the central shaft, and the debris was hauled out with buckets raised by the locomotive’s steam engine. 1 George Kraus, High Road to Promontory: Building the Central Pacific (now the Southern Pacific) across the High Sierra (Palo Alto: American West publishing Company, 1969), 194-195. That’s one way it failed.”. Locomotive engineers complained that traveling through all the sheds was like “railroading in a barn.” Others nicknamed the snow sheds the “longest barn in the world.”4. . Eventually, the famous Sing Fat Bazaar of San Francisco opened a branch in the town. There are photos, as well, of the Native Americans, many of whom protested against the building of the railway in 1869, which displaced the Lakota, Shoshone, Cheyenne and other communities. The Chinese Railroad Workers Project lessons touch upon many key issues in the high school U.S. history standards, including the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, immigration to the United States, challenges faced by immigrants like the Chinese … The great race to Promontory: the 150th anniversary of driving the Golden Spike. In 1870 he continued cooking for railroad workers in Elko. 1 William F. Chew, Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad: The Chinese Workers of the Central Pacific Railroad (Victoria, BC: Trafford), 2004, 37. The Chinese knew they had some leverage because labor was so scarce, even Chinese labor. 2015. Louis M. Clement, one of the company’s main engineers, recalled that “during the winter months there was constant danger from avalanches, and many laborers lost their lives.” “In many instances,” James Strobridge recalled, “our camps were carried away by snowslides, and men were buried and many of them were not found until the snow melted the next summer.” A. P. Partridge, who was on a bridge-building crew, also remembered the treacherous winters, and he too said about the Chinese workers that “a good many were frozen to death” in 1867. Andrew J. Russell Collection. Veronica Peterson T he transcontinental railway was primarily built in two extensive portions by two corporations. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. Courtesy of The Alfred A. Hart Photo Collection, Special Collections, Stanford University. Early Chinese Immigration to the US. 2 (May 1996): 149; David R. Roediger and Elizabeth D. Esch, The Production of Difference: Race and the Management of Labor in U.S. History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 77. In the spring of 1869, observers could see massed Chinese workers residing in three sprawling camp cities totaling 275 tents.1, Unlike many railroad towns that were short-lived, Elko became permanent, the last major town before Utah, and it served miners, ranchers, and travelers. The most difficult was No. Historians have only been able to fashion what we know about the Chinese workers through the eyes of others, such as reports and letters to company and government officials by managers and engineers and their memoirs, along with accounts by journalists and travel writers. One cook, Quong Kee, worked for the CPRR, and even attended the Golden Spike ceremony in 1869. The roadbed was to be a ledge that snaked around the rock and the task required grading, leveling and clearing trees, stumps, rocks and other obstructions along a slope of “about seventy-five degrees, or nearly perpendicular,” as Chief Engineer Samuel Montague describes the site.1 Hundreds of kegs of black blasting powder were used to form a ledge from which a level roadbed could be graded and tracks laid. 1 Caxton [W. H. Roads], San Francisco Chronicle] quoted in George Kraus, High Road to Promontory: Building the Central Pacific (now the Southern Pacific) across the High Sierra (Palo Alto, CA: American West Publishing Company, 1969), 204, 208. Many of the actual workers were left out. The work was tiresome, as the railroad was built entirely by manual laborers who used to shovel 20 pounds of rock over 400 times a day. During 1866, approximately 8,000 Chinese worked on the construction of tunnels and 3000 were grading and doing other work, representing ninety percent of the workforce.2 Leland Stanford wrote to President Johnson that he expected 15,000 Chinese workers by 1866: “A large majority of the white laboring class on the Pacific Coast find most profitable and congenial employment in mining and agricultural pursuits, than in railroad work. Next to him there may be another man, similarly dressed, facing the camera, but a white man next to him has his armed extended and holding up his hat. Until spring 2020, Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad peels back the layers to see who else should be commemorated during the recent 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion – an achievement which has typically been celebrated with photos of old locomotives, successful-looking men in suits and anonymous workers hammering away. Chinese veterans of the Central Pacific, along with additional compatriots newly arrived from China, also helped to build scores of other railroads throughout the United States and Canada during this period, a time in which the rail mileage of the country more than tripled. These counties suffered from extreme poverty, ethnic conflict, and civil unrest, and the area was close to Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou (Canton) as points of departure. Many of those who came to North America worked under different conditions, although they continued to suffer the stigma of being mistakenly labeled as “coolies.”. These men stayed in their camps. Historians estimate that Chinese workers cost between two-thirds and one half of what white workers cost.1. A squad of eight Irish rail-handlers and an army of several thousand Chinese accomplished the feat. Such a description also appears in Nelson’s Pictorial Guidebook: The Central Pacific Railroad: A Trip across the North American Continent from Ogden to San Francisco (New York: T. Nelson & Sons, 1870), 83. Chinese workers were an essential part of building the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR), the western section of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States. According to his account, the Central Pacific offered extra wages for Cornish miners to do the work, recruiting them from the Nevada silver mines. [, “Summits Of Sierras 8000 To 10000 Feet Altitude.” # 187, Photograph. Facing starvation and threats of violence, the workers ended the strike.4, Although the company did not concede to the specific demands, they learned that the Chinese could not be taken for granted. Some frozen bodies were found in the spring with their shovels or picks still in their hands.3, The Summit Tunnel was completed, graded and track laid on November 30, 1867. The accomplishment was in response to a $10,000 wager Charles Crocker made with Thomas Durant of the Union Pacific that his Central Pacific workers were capable of doing what seemed impossible. Chinese workers were being drawn away from the railroad to work in nearby mines, even though the foremen tried to prevent them from leaving, sometimes by force. Payroll records for January 1864 showed that the Central Pacific had hired a crew of 23 Chinese workers with two supervising them, Hung Wah and Ah Toy, and the CPRR would hire more during that year.1. Soon, several thousand workers grading along the eastern slope of the Sierra between Cisco (Mile 92/Kilometer 148) and just before Truckee (Mile 119/Kilometer 191.5), digging tunnels, and doing other jobs put their tools down and stayed in their camps. Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America’s First Transcontinental Railroad. Whether hanging from ropes or baskets, Chinese workers undertook an arduous and dangerous task of exploding and cutting through steep terrain at Cape Horn and other sites along the railroad. “To totally condemn the businessmen is challenging because they took huge risks raising money to build a railroad that was astronomically difficult. [, Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, http://governors.library.ca.gov/addresses/08-Stanford.html, http://ia601403.us.archive.org/6/items/reportofunitedst05unitrich/reportofunitedst05unitrich_djvu.txt, http://cprr.org/Museum/Farrar/pictures/2005-03-09-01-08.html, http://cprr.org/Museum/AA_Hart-Mead_Kibbey_CSLF/Alfred_Hart.html. Online Sources: Railroads Alfred A. Hart Stereograph Collection Relating to the Central Pacific Railroad, circa 1866-1869. At least some Chinese may have worked at Bloomer Cut by the time it was completed in March 1865. The tracks reached Wadsworth (Mile 189 Kilometer 304) by July 22, 1868. “There’s no question this is a story about migrant labor,” he said. In 1862, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies began building a transcontinental railroad that would link the United States from east to … “The artifacts on view are meant to help visitors understand how forgotten workers had to endure hazardous, unfair conditions, in addition to backbreaking labor,” said Leibhold. Observers could see masses of Chinese workers in three sprawling camps with a total of 275 tents. On May 1, the line from Truckee to Reno was completed, and on June 15, the gap between Cisco and Truckee was closed. Students will read and answer questions about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese and Irish immigrant labor, and the Land of Opportunity vs. Chinese workers made up most of the workforce between roughly 700 miles of train tracks between Sacramento, California, and Promontory, Utah. In the summer of 1865 the railroad builders faced one of their biggest challenges, a roadbed curving around a mountain high in the Sierra Nevada, named Cape Horn (Mile 57/Kilometer 91.7) after the treacherous route for ships sailing around the tip of South America. There had been some labor actions for better pay and conditions but none of the previous strikes were large or sustained. Another, less famous but most informative, photograph by Russell taken minutes before his iconic one shows Chinese workers completing the final work to link the two lines. Oakland Museum of California; Spude, Promontory Summit, 43. 3 E. B. Crocker to Collis P. Huntington, June 27, 1867, and Mark Hopkins to Collis P. Huntington, June 27, 1867. Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California. Some brought labor skills from China, such as techniques of masonry they used to construct many retaining walls along the railroad route that became famous for their strength and endurance; many of those walls are still standing today. [, “Laborers and Rocks, near opening of Summit Tunnel.” #119, Photograph. # 353, Photograph. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, a vital revision is presented. This meant that there was one continuous line from Sacramento to Reno, and the first eastbound passenger train arrived in Reno on June 18, 1868.1, As that first train going East descended into Truckee valley, an unnamed reporter for San Francisco and Virginia City newspapers observed how “John [the vernacular name for a Chinese laborer] comprehending fully the importance of the event, loses his natural appearance of stolidity and indifference and welcomes with the swinging of his broad brimmed hat and loud, uncouth shouts the iron horse and those that he brings with him.”2. [, "East and West shaking hands at the laying of the last rail." Members of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association take photos at the first stop on the transcontinental railroad grade tour in May 2019. Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America’s first Transcontinental Railroad. “Rails were placed on two blocks and forced into the desired curve by blows of a heavy hammer – a time-consuming process,” according to one account.1 Crocker related that an Army officer witnessed the advance and said, “I never saw such organization as that. 5, 2577, 2580; “Reminiscences of A.P Partridge,” Lynn D. Farrar Collection, Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum website, accessed May 30, 2017, http://cprr.org/Museum/Farrar/pictures/2005-03-09-01-08.html. The Chinese workers were educated and organized; 3,000 laborers went on strike in 1867 to demand equal wages, as the white workers were paid double. Like thousands of native-born Americans and immigrants from other parts of the world, they hoped to strike it rich during the Gold Rush. Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao, three of the eight Chinese workers who put the last rail in place, on a float at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in Ogden, Utah. During the 19th century, more than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the railroad’s completion. In Strobridge’s estimation, the white workers were “unsteady men and unreliable. The Central Pacific Railroad Museum site has a link to an excerpted version of one of Asa Whitney's Pacific railroad proposals to Congress—this one from 1848. Contributions of Chinese Railroad Workers. Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Source for information on Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers: Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library dictionary. “On the west, there were Chinese workers, out east were Irish and Mormon workers were in the center. The Project coordinates research in the United States and Asia in order to create an on-line digital archive available to all. They had bags of money for each work gang, and at each one they dropped the money into a worker’s hat with a statement written in Chinese, and the gang boss would divvy up the cash to all the workers in his crew. Today we can also draw upon artifacts of material culture uncovered by archaeologists, oral histories of descendants of the workers, and the ability of digital resources to bring together all the texts and other evidence for insights. [, Poetry And Prose Scene At Monument Point North End Of Salt Lake. Their work continued well into the 20th century. People had to hold their pose a long time to take photos in those days – so it’s odd that this man holds his hat very deliberately to hide the face of the person standing next to him. In a new exhibition, the overlooked contribution of Chinese workers is being brought to the light for the 150th anniversary of the railroad’s completion, Thu 18 Jul 2019 07.00 BST Chinese immigrants helped build America's first transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, but their contribution has been largely forgotten. Strobridge, when the work was all over, did invite the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory [nearby work camp] for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. 2 See “East and West Shaking Hands: Laying Last Rail,” Plate 227. [, “Heading Of East Portal Tunnel No 8 From Donner Lake Railroad.” # 204, Photograph. The railroad company provided room and board to white workers, but Chinese workers had to find their own meals, which were often brought to them from local merchants. © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Charles Crocker and the rest of the Associates were supporters of Abraham Lincoln; they were anti-slavery defenders of the Union, and they resisted the notion that the railroad workers were “coolies.” Crocker, years later, testified before Congress that Chinese labor was not slavery, “not servile labor ... it is free labor; just as free labor as yours and mine.”5 They were not slaves, not indentured, not “coolies,” but the Chinese workers were exploited and coerced. 3 James H Strobridge, testimony taken by United States Congress, Senate. The history of Chinese Americans or the history of ethnic Chinese in the United States includes three major waves of Chinese immigration to the United States, beginning in the 19th century. Others who remained in the U.S. went to work in agriculture, mining, and building levees along the rivers; or they entered domestic service or worked in manufacturing to produce cigars and other products. No one else is the target of a similar gesture or prank. Chinese laborers made up a majority of the Central Pacific workforce that built out the transcontinental railroad east from California. Only four years earlier the country had been divided by a bloody Civil War; the railroad that bound the East Coast to the West was hailed as an emblem of both unity and progress. Water was essential, and out of desperation engineers discovered fresh water from springs inside mountains on the flanks of the railroad line, and they ran pipes and built storage tanks along the route. But there is no extant letter, diary, or memoir by the Chinese workers themselves. 4 Sisson, Wallace & Co., Advertisement, Railroad Gazetteer 1870, 53. 30-N-36-2994. The Chinese diet and especially the use of boiled water reduced the outbreak of dysentery and other diseases. On the positive sides, the railroad made it possible to move goods and people across the country much more quickly. For one account, see William F. Chew, Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad: The Chinese Workers of the Central Pacific Railroad (Bloomington, IN: Trafford, 2003), 94-101. They are also honoring the hundreds and thousands of Chinese workers … Forty-four storms were counted in one winter, and snow at the summit averaged 18 feet/5.5 meters with a total snowfall reaching over 40 feet/12 meters. 2 Sue Fawn Chung, “Beyond Railroad Work: Chinese Contributions to the Development of Winnemucca and Elko, Nevada,” in The Chinese and the Iron Road, edited by Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford: Stanford University Press, forthcoming). Crocker and Mark Hopkins considered taking advantage of the Alfred A. Hart Photo Collection Special! Extensive portions by two corporations is 526 miles/846.5 kilometers from Sacramento, close the! ©2018 Chinese railroad workers in the United States across the continent along the work possible to move goods people! 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chinese workers transcontinental railroad primary sources

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