Monday, January 24, 2005

Re: Was there a camp of Chinese RR worker tents at Promontory?

The California newspaper reporters were pretty detailed on events in May, and none note a Chinese camp at Promontory Summit. Chinese worked at the site April 30-May 1, or so, the end of the CP track, but left to work on gravel trains back West as others note. At that time there was still some confusion as to the final terminus -- at Promontory or the agreed upon Ogden. As the officials feuded and by default decided on Promontory as a "permanent" transfer point, by May 10, the Chinese and other workers arrived in Strobridge's work train to build the CP yard. In a May 10 Hart view looking West can be seen a wagon "camp" in the distance, at the location of the future CP yard. My guess is this was a work crew getting ready to clear sage brush, build grade, place ties and rail etc at the CP yard, which was built May 11-12 or so. Is this a Chinese work camp? probably. Does a contemporary mention it as a Chinese camp? I haven't found one. There are plenty of references that the Chinese were there, including the Russell photo of the Chinese crew laying rail May 10 as part of the ceremony. But the reporters were focused on the last spike ceremony, not the workers camps there.
Hope this helps

Bob Spude ¨ Historian ¨ Cultural Resources Management ¨ National Park Service – Intermountain Region ¨ 505.988.6770 Voice ¨ 505.988.6876 Fax

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