Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fudging the facts doesn't promote tolerance: The Chinese at Promontory

Chinese railroad workers most definitely were included in the May 10, 1869 joining of the rails ceremony. Honor the memory of the heroic Chinese transcontinental railroad workers by telling their story with historical accuracy.

We are troubled by an article in today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle which misleadingly states:

"However, although historical records show that most of the railroad was built by thousands of Chinese laborers, on the Golden Spike Day, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways were joined at Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869, the picture taken to commemorate the occasion EXCLUDED the Chinese railroad workers. That is despite the fact that they were the ones who actually laid the final tracks joining the two railways and that these Chinese workers laid 10 miles of track in one day, a record still unbroken to this day. There have been many efforts to redress this omission." [emphasis added]

Referring to "the picture taken to commemorate the occasion" fudges the facts since there were multiple pictures taken. Presumably this refers to UPRR photographer A.J. Russell's "champagne" picture as if it were the only one, while in fact Russell didn't exclude the Chinese from his photography. To the contrary, A.J. Russell took a photograph on the same day specifically to show the Chinese workers which he titled "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR."

The CPRR management went much further, commissioning the famous painting of "The Last Spike" by Thomas Hill that includes the Chinese railroad workers, as well as the earlier stereoviews taken by A.A Hart, the railroad's official photographer to promote the construction project and showing the Chinese workers.

Also omitted is a critical part of the story: the fact that the portions of the transcontinental railroad built in Utah where the golden spike ceremony was held used mostly Mormon contractors and crews, largely replacing Chinese or Irish laborers used earlier in other states.

The famous A.J. Russell photograph (or the related stereviews by Charles Savage and by A.A. Hart) could not include the Chinese workers[sic] photographed earlier participating in the joining of the rails ceremony because at the moment the famous photo was being taken it was AFTER the conclusion of the ceremony and the Chinese workers were away from the two locomotives to dine at J.H. Strobridge's boarding car, being honored and cheered by the CPRR management.

Far from the Chinese being "excluded," a reporter for the San Francisco Newsletter, May 15th, 1869, described the final moments of the celebration at Promontory:

"J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road ... a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."

The Chinese were not only not "excluded" from the ceremony on May 10, 1869, but three of them, Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao survived long enough to also be included in the commemorative parade held exactly 50 years later!

While virulent anti-Chinese racism was certainly prevelant in 19th century California, Central Pacific Railroad officials facing economic necessity, rapidly overcame their initial prejudice against the Chinese once they hired some Chinese laborers and discovered that their work was outstanding. Don't unfairly malign great men whose vision, investment, and hard work made a project many thought impossible into a stunning success.

The few surviving Chinese-American descendants of the CPRR Chinese railroad workers whose ancestors built the difficult mountainous and arid western portions of the first transcontinental railroad should look back with well justified enormous pride at their brave ancestors' amazing accomplishment – the manual construction of the greatest engineering project of the 19th century that united our nation.

What the historic record actually shows is that the CPRR management overcame the prevalent racist attitudes of the day, recognized the great value of Chinese labor, and at the completion of the railroad construction properly honored and cheered the Chinese workers who built the railroad and were included in the ceremonies on May 10th, 1869. Those Chinese were free men seeking opportunity in America, paid comparable wages in gold for their incredibly hard construction work, who were able to save two-thirds of their railroad wages to enable them to return to China with considerable wealth.

Eight Chinese railroad workers, including Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao, were the men who actually joined the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869 and were honored on that day by the railroad officials for the magnificent Chinese contribution to building a transcontinental America.

"History is a pack of lies agreed upon." —Napoleon Bonapart

UPDATE 4/19/2019
Stanford University researchers have identified two of the men shown in the A.J. Russell "champagne" photograph as being Chinese CPRR railroad workers. ["One of them is facing the camera, and one is turned away."]

Two Chinese CPRR railroad workers in A.J. Russell 'champagne' photograph.
Image detail courtesy Stanford Historical Photograph Collection, Stanford University Libraries.

Also, contrary to what is commonly mis-reported, at the peak of CPRR Chinese employment in 1866, both Chinese and Caucasian railroad laborers received $35/month in gold coin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another." —Milton Freidman, Nobel Prize Winning Economist

5/11/2006 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is bad enough that so many people believe things without any evidence. What is worse is that some people have no conception of evidence and regard facts as just someone else’s opinion." —Thomas Sowell

5/11/2006 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tolerance: the free, competitive marketplace makes bigotry and prejudice very expensive. ... "
Michael Cloud

The price for not overcoming the anti-Chinese sentiment prevalent in 1860's California would have been quite extreme for the railroad builders if they chose to indulge their personal prejudices – the inability to build the Central Pacific Railroad, the collapse of their business, and personal financial ruin.

The many books by economist Thomas Sowell about race explore how market economies make it too expensive to discriminate because the intolerant must bear the full cost of not hiring the best person for the job.

5/26/2006 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A book for children claims that workers' "hazardous labor earns them only pennies a day" while the truth is that they were paid (adjusting for the current price of gold) about $1,880/month or $63/day as uneducated laborers with no experience.

[They were paid approximately 1.5 ounces of gold per month as $30 in gold coin, so the calculation is 1.5 oz gold x $1254/oz gold ÷ 30 days.]

6/25/2010 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another online article in a publication promoting racial victimhood, Building the Pacific Railroad: Contributions Of Chinese Americans, makes all the same mistakes yet again, for example quoting incorrect conclusions from "Professor Madeline Hsu of Asian American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin [who] says, 'the absence of Chinese from the celebrations at Promontory Point, where the Transcontinental Railroad was finished, was perhaps the most glaring example [of the lack of Chinese representation].' "

As noted above, Chinese were not only present at the joining of the rails celebration, they were the ones who placed the final rail, were photographed doing this, were absent from view in photographs taken immediately after the ceremony because they were at a party with the CPRR management to recognize the Chinese contribution, and the very same Chinese men were photographed 50 years later in the parade commemorating the event.

The reason that there were not large numbers of Chinese at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869 is because that last portion of the railroad in Utah was constructed mostly by Mormon contractors, not by the CPRR Chinese workers.

9/02/2010 10:20 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

9/03/2010 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The racism against the Chinese arose from the early labor movement, not from railroad management, nor is the timing correct as the railroad was completed in 1869. Instead, the virulent anti-Chinese sentiment came later from labor leaders in the face of the continued high unemployment after the crash of 1873 which started in Europe and spread to the United States. The unemployment rate in San Francisco was 20% in 1877 when the racist Working Man's Party was agitating that "The Chinese must go." Labor leader Dennis Kearney on December 28, 1877 demonstrating in San Francisco against the Chinese said that "We intend to try and vote the Chinese out, to frighten him out, and if this won't do, to kill him out ... the heathen slaves must leave this coast." The railroad management had been in favor of immigration of Chinese labor to California. Kearney threatened the railroad managers that they must fire the Chinese workers, while also saying: "A little judicious hanging right here and now will be the best course to pursue with the capitalists and stock sharps who are all the time robbing us." So the actual history seems instead to be that labor was virulently racist, while the railroad management was in practice mostly pro-Chinese.

9/08/2010 5:55 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

9/22/2010 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By contrast to the actual safety record in the construction of the transcontinental railroad, did you know that 25,000 men died in the construction of the Panama Canal that was completed in 1914 after first French and then American efforts?

2/16/2011 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Book Review in the Maui News on March 5, 2011 by Harry Eagar of the book, The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester, opines that:

" ... the idea that China 'invented everything' has become a kind of vulgar common coin. So much so that, in California schools today, the kiddies are taught the the Chinese built the Central Pacific Railroad.

A bright fifth-grader would likely ask, then why didn’t they build one in China, and the reason is that, of course, there is more to building a railroad than pounding spikes, and China, for all its genuine innovations, was deficient in surveying, metallurgy, mechanics, theory of heat and a number of other ingredients required to build a railroad; and in other, equally important but less technological requirements, such as management and finance."

Of course the Chinese workers did provide the manual labor to construct the Central Pacific Railroad, but did not provide the innovation, engineering, entrepreneurship, and management of that great construction project in the Western United States in the 19th century. At other times and places, Chinese certainly did build all manner of railroads and other businesses, at times that their entrepreneurial spirit was not suppressed by imperial or communist government oppression.

3/05/2011 9:54 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

3/20/2011 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As the post-Civil War economy declined, labor unions struggling to organize blamed Chinese 'coolies' for undercutting wages. Hostility became widespread."

From "China Alley: Historians unearth mystery of the disappearance of Bozeman’s Chinese community." Bozeman Daily Chronicle
By GAIL SCHONTZLER, April 3, 2011.

4/03/2011 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related lesson plan.

4/09/2011 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by James M. Lindsay.

5/06/2011 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is correct and what is historically incorrect in the following account which appears in Richard Adams' review of a play published on the World Socialist Web Site?:

" ... During the 1860s, nearly half the Chinese population in the United States worked for the Central Pacific Railroad under brutal conditions. Once the transcontinental railroad was completed, two-thirds of its Chinese labor force returned to China; the rest went into fishing and agriculture, many signing labor contracts to work the former plantations of the Old South (replacing slave labor) while others migrated to frontier cities such as Los Angeles.

Sections of white immigrant workers, led by demagogues, were led to perceive these abruptly unemployed Chinese workers as a threat. ... Denis Kearney’s speech to ten thousand unemployed workers in San Francisco in 1877 ... At that rally to support striking East Coast railroad men, Kearny railed against the railroad magnates and big landowners. He reserved his most venomous attacks, however, for the Chinese workers, whom he accused of stealing 'American' jobs.

Kearney called upon the crowd to expel them from the country by force. Within minutes of his cry, 'The Chinese must go!' — which became the battle cry of the American Workingmen’s Party — a white mob rampaged through San Francisco’s Chinatown for three days, beating the men and gang-raping the women. They burned laundries and attacked the steamship docks that provided transport to China. ...

Anna Smith, chair of the Workingmen’s Committee, defended the mob’s actions, comparing them to the Minutemen of Lexington. She asserted that it was 'a mob that threw the tea overboard in Boston Harbor' and ended her oration with, 'I want to see every Chinaman thrown out of this state.' Kearney fantasized exploding dynamite-loaded balloons over Chinatown and erecting gallows on every vacant lot.

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, painted the Chinese as liars, cheaters, murderers and opium addicts. He even insisted that Chinese men had left their wives at home so they could prey on virtuous American girls (overlooking the fact that most Chinese women were legally prohibited entry into the United States). Henry George warned that Chinese immigration would 'make the rich richer and the poor poorer' and that they would make 'princes of our capitalists and crush our working class into the dust.'

This Yellow Peril hysteria climaxed in the atrocities of 1885-1886: in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in Issaquah, Tacoma, and Seattle, Washington, and in Juneau, Alaska, where a hundred Chinese men were set adrift at sea. California had its own Klan-like 'Order of Caucasians'; it waged a relentless campaign to terrorize the Chinese. In 1885 alone, thirty-five California communities experienced anti-Chinese riots or forced expulsions."

5/29/2011 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Chris Graves"

I will offer three comments re: this question:

1. Consider the source, and rise above it.

2. The more I know, the more I need to know.

3. Folks that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

The gentle reader should understand that the writer of such drivel has a message that he/she wants to deliver to influence the reader to join him/her in a rush to judgment.

I am reminded of the letter send to a fellow that had just met a young lady that appeared to have all the qualities of a fine wife.

To wit:
Friend Anonymous-
You ask me if you will not act the wiser part by marrying Miss Informed at once, and settling yourself permanently; and yet you inform me that it has been but three weeks since you first made her acquaintance. You may possibly be in jest, and perhaps in earnest: in either case, as you ask my advice, I can but give it
The choosing a life companion, dear Anonymous, is too serious a matter to be so hastily decided. The selection of a partner for a dance or a ride may be of little moment; the choice of an associate for business may be determined in a short time; but the acceptance of a partner for life requires the most serious deliberation. You should take ample time for the STUDY of the character, temperament, disposition and accomplishments of the lady (OR THE WRITER OF DRIVEL) whom you choose to be the sharer of your labors, joys, sorrows, reverses and prosperity.
To take this step hangs a large share of your happiness in life. Do not act too hastily. Trusting, however, that I will some day see you happy with your bride AND YOUR THOUGHTS, I am, as ever,
Your Most Sincere Friend

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Alta Cal'a

5/30/2011 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make sure that your facts aren't
˙uʍop ǝpısdn

6/01/2011 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related comment.

7/18/2011 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Courtesy Google Alerts, here is a comment about another apparent attempt at manufacturing a fake racial controversy, i.e., because the Chinese were supposedly excluded ("No Chinese need apply?") from a "Hell on Wheels" television script about the Union Pacific Railroad. (The controversy makes no sense, of course, as the Chinese worked for a different railroad, the Central Pacific, not for the Union Pacific which is the subject of the script.) So nobody was excluded from anything.

8/18/2011 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another ridiculous myth, this time about bodies in Lake Tahoe. Time to stop making up nonsense.

8/22/2011 7:33 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Another question received with a false premise:

"Why didn't Chinese laborers get credit for their work for the American railroad?"

They did get credit and are getting credit.

10/01/2011 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the same historical errors are again repeated in the Wall Street Journal October 26, 2011 commentary by Jeff Yang, "Do Chinese Pioneers Get Railroaded in AMC’s ‘Hell on Wheels’."

[Courtesy of Google Alerts.]

10/26/2011 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bloomer Cut accident that was reported in the Placer Herald, April 16, 1864, indicates that before Chinese workers were hired in large numbers white workers were exposed to exactly the same sorts of risks as the Chinese workers hired later, so any claims the welfare of Chinese workers was disregarded because of their race seems inconsistent with the historical evidence.

10/27/2011 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Related book: Race and Liberty in America by
Jonathan Bean

1/12/2012 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, The price of 'Yellow Peril', Opinion by Jeff Yang.

Explains that modern political advertising against outsourcing "American jobs" to China repeats the mistakes of the 19th century anti-Chinese sentiment. (In a free market, jobs go to China only when both countries are better off as a result.):

“ 'Sir: I am a Chinaman, a republican, and a lover of free institutions; am much attached to the principles of the government of the United States ... The effect of your late message has been … to prejudice the public mind against my people, to enable those who wait the opportunity to hunt them down. '

These were the opening lines of an open letter written by Chinese restaurant owner Norman Asing to California Governor John Bigler, who, in 1852, had demonstrated his intention to ride nativist sentiment to re-election by delivering a scabrous, xenophobic speech before the state legislature. ...

Later, he was named U.S. ambassador to Chile, and then U.S. commissioner for the Central Pacific Railroad (ironically, overseeing the greatest achievement of the so-called 'coolies' he so despised.)"

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

2/09/2012 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A March 4, 2012 article, Railroad adventure takes author to gold country, by RICHARD FROST, A Day Away, Press-Republican states,

" ... Chinese who had come to America to mine gold were denigrated for their small size, lack of skills and even their habit of bathing daily. Many white workers, however, proved unreliable, deserting their jobs for gold prospecting or other endeavors. In frustration, Crocker forced construction chief James Strobridge to hire 50 Chinese men. Despite Strobridge's harassment, none quit, and most were productive. Soon he would hire only Chinese. More than 11,000 were working on the tracks by 1869. ... "

But, this does not seem entirely plausible as Ah Toy was listed as a Chinese Foreman in the January and February, 1864 Central Pacific Railroad payroll sheets who is likely the same man that 12 years earlier already worked for James H. Strobridge on his farm according to the Calfornia Special Census of 1852.

3/04/2012 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, Deaths during railroad construction.

3/19/2012 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another example of internet misinformation:

"The workers received about $1-3 per day, but those brought directly from China received far less."

4/09/2012 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A newspaper article "Memory of Chinese transcontinental railroad workers to be honored" again misleads, getting the history wrong (see above), and repeating the same myths:

"But the historic celebratory photo from that day the Central Pacific and Union Pacific came together doesn't include her relatives or any Chinese workers, a fact not lost on [railroad worker descendant, Margaret] Yee. Chinese workers, she said, were not only discriminated against — they were paid one-third that of their Irish counterparts — but forgotten when the job was done."

5/13/2012 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion, "How much were the Chinese paid?"

5/13/2012 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The University of California. Davis, History Project writes:

"Impressive Workers
Central Pacific contractor, Charles Crocker, encountered strong prejudice from foreman James Harvey Strobridge when he decided to hire Chinese laborers. Strobridge's attitude changed when a group of Irish laborers agitated over wages. Crocker told Strobridge to recruit some Chinese in their place. Instantly, the Irishmen abandoned their dispute. Sensing at least that fear of competition might motivate his men, Strobridge grudgingly agreed to hire 50 Chinese men as wagon-fillers. Their work ethic impressed him, and he hired more Chinese workers for more difficult tasks. Soon, labor recruiters were scouring California, and Crocker hired companies to advertise the work in China. The number of Chinese workers on CP payrolls began increasing by the shipload. Several thousand Chinese men had signed on by the end of that year; the number rose to a high of 12,000 in 1868, comprising at least 80% of the Central Pacific workforce. 'Wherever we put them, we found them good,' Crocker recalled, 'and they worked themselves into our favor to such an extent that if we found we were in a hurry for a job of work, it was better to put Chinese on at once.' "

5/23/2012 10:42 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See, In rare apology, House regrets exclusionary laws targeting Chinese, by Moni Basu, CNN.

" ... The House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday expressing regret for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed severe restrictions on Chinese immigration and naturalization and denied Chinese-Americans basic freedoms because of their race. ... "

6/20/2012 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same error appears in a newspaper article yesterday in the San Francisco Examiner, "‘Remnants’ examines Chinese-American lives," by: Janos Gereben:

"Another poignant souvenir of the era is the all-white crowd at the 1869 Golden Spike celebration, marking the completion of the vital Transcontinental Railroad. The Central Pacific portion was built by Chinese laborers, not one of whom is shown in the photo published around the world."

Again, the crowd wasn't "all white" and the Chinese men who laid the last rails and spikes of the transcontinental railroad were, at the moment the famous A.J. Russell photograph was taken, in Superintendent Strobridge's rail car being praised and toasted by the railroad management for their vital contribution to the building of the just completed Central Pacific Railroad.

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

9/05/2012 11:35 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

1/14/2013 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another example of distorting the history:

"The Central Pacific did not appear out of nowhere but on the backs of thousands of meagerly paid Chinese laborers ... "

Thirty dollars per month in gold coin was anything but "meagerly" and the Chinese came wanting the railroad jobs where they could save 2/3 of their income to soon become wealthy by the standards of southern China.

2/25/2013 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CPRR foreman, Amos L. Bowsher, who wired the telegraphic connection at Promontory which sent the word out over the wires that the last spike had been driven later recalled: "It was certainly a cosmopolitan gathering. Irish and Chinese laborers who had set records in track laying that have never since been equalled joined with the cowboys, Mormons, miners and Indians in celebrating completion of the railroad."

3/07/2013 12:11 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

3/25/2013 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another example of fudging the facts is the claim that the Chinese and Irish railroad workers were trying to blow up one another with explosives, but the supposed witness and author of the account, UPRR Chief Engineer Dodge, was actually about two thousand miles away from the transcontinental railroad construction site at the time.

7/25/2013 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion in which it is pointed out that J.H. Strobridge was included in the Russell photograph.

10/19/2013 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

2/10/2014 12:20 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Induction of the Chinese Railroad Workers into the Labor Hall of Honor

5/06/2014 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chinese railroad workers honored for linking East and West
Over 11,000 labored on transcontinental railroad, completed 145 years ago
" by Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 9, 2014, has similarly misleading analysis, stating (as if the role of the Chinese railroad workers is not one of the most well known aspects of the building of the first transcontinental railroad, and that they were paid in gold about the same wages) that "when the formal photograph of that historic occasion was taken, the Chinese laborers ... were literally out of the picture. ... a part of their history long forgotten and neglected ... erased from our history books ... they worked ... for less money than other ethnic groups".

5/10/2014 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the same errors are repeated:

Descendants of Chinese Laborers Reclaim Railroad's History

12/04/2014 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Searching for "Chinese workers removed from image".

2/09/2015 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pure fantasy/fabrication – there are no historic transcontinental railroad images from which Chinese workers were removed.

See the discussion above.

This is especially implausible as the technology to alter photographs was not created until long after 1869.

Also, the large A.J. Russell photograph was taken on a wet plate collodion glass plate and the negative survives at the Oakland Museum, so that you can easily make a comparison and verify that the prints are identical to the photographic negative.

2/09/2015 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't understand the repeating meme that there was a great injustice because "x" was forgotten by history, when that plainly isn't true.

Just like the claims that the Chinese railroad workers on the first transcontinental railroad were "forgotten," when they were instead clearly celebrated both then and are celebrated now, the first Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, Theodore D. Judah (who with Doc Strong found a railroad route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California), is claimed to have been "forgotten by history," when clearly that is not true, as anyone who cares to learn about the CPRR history knows about Judah:

The man history forgot: The railroad genius behind Roseville’s birth has become invisible.

2/28/2015 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see Chinese American history volunteer group.

4/07/2015 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Congressional testimony does not agree with Northern California businessman, C.C. Yin's claim that “The Chinese workers were treated like slaves ... "

5/26/2015 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a distortion to assert that "The Chinese workers endured tremendous hardship, and unlike their bosses, they didn’t get rich."

Pay of thirty dollars per month in gold coin was sufficient to allow the Chinese workers to save 2/3 of their income to soon become wealthy by the standards of southern China. They crossed the Pacific Ocean to make their fortunes, and apparently many succeeded.

"The Chinese [railroad workers] ... are paid from $30 to $35 in gold a month ... They are credited with having saved about $20 a month." —Alta, California, November 9, 1868 Newspaper.

" ... Chinamen ... receive $35 per month (gold) ... Of this they save from $20 to $23. ... " —The New York Tribune, June 26, 1869.

5/26/2015 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statement that "Chinese railroad workers’ contributions weren’t recognized when the 100th anniversary happened" is incorrect because the principal publication concerning that anniversary was the National Golden Spike Centennial Commission Official Publication in the Utah Historical Quarterly, 1969, entitled The Last Spike is Driven contains the article Chinese Laborers and the Construction of the Central Pacific by George Kraus which definitely recognizes the contributions of the Chinese workers on the Central Pacific Railroad.

6/08/2015 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, the same errors:

" ... Chinese laborers ... were paid less than fellow Caucasian workers ... The Chinese railroad workers received no acknowledgment at the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the railroad in 1969."

which is especially odd, since the research cited includes the oral history that,

"According to Olga Eng Chin, her grandfather Eng Mun Dom (We Wen Tan) worked on the railroad from California to Utah. He came from the ancestral village of Munlow, where all the Engs came from. After working he returned to China with the equivalent of $10,000, which was viewed as a fortune."

6/18/2015 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most well known fact about the Central Pacific Railroad's construction seems to be that the excellent work was performed mostly by Chinese workers.

Thus, the wording of a Stanford University Chinese railroad descendant oral history question "How do you feel about the lack of attention that their contributions have received?" seems to prejudge the issue peculiarly to the contrary.

6/18/2015 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While there are no historic transcontinental railroad manipulated images from which "Chinese workers were removed," the golden spike images taken on May 10, 1869 do appear to be staged for the camera. That seems just fine, as it is obvious that it's a planned celebration with locomotives and people taking their places before the camera to record the event for posterity. People do respond to being photographed, as do subatomic particles. But now people are so hypersensitive, that staged photographs are considered "ethically challenged." Doesn't a problem really only arise if people are deceived by the images?

6/24/2015 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This week's episode of the television series Hell on Wheels repeats the lie that Chinese railroad workers were paid one third the salary of white workers.

7/23/2015 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, the same mistakes at NBC News:

" ... the brutal – and often ignored – story of the Chinese ... Chinese laborers who worked for the Central Pacific Railroad ... were systematically paid less than their white laborer counterparts, and used by management to quell labor grumblings."

No, difficult manual labor was typical of the 19th century, not "brutal," the Chinese role in building the first transcontinental railroad is one of the most well known facts, the Chinese were paid in gold, about the same wages as white laborer counterparts, and Chinese were transported across the Pacific Ocean and hired by the CPRR because caucasian workers in 1860's California were in short supply because they preferred to mine for gold, not work railroad construction jobs.

9/09/2015 8:04 PM  
Blogger Ginar28 said...

Thank you for this information

4/24/2017 6:06 PM  
Blogger Ginar28 said...

I love history.

4/24/2017 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see additional information about virulent anti-Chinese racism in 19th century California,

The Chinese Must Go: The Workingmen’s Party and the California Constitution of 1879 by Greg Seto


6/29/2017 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1879 California Constitution - Article XIX "Chinese"
Courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collection.



Section 1. The Legislature shall prescribe all necessary regulations for the protection of the State, and the counties, cities, and towns thereof, from the burdens and evils arising from the presence of aliens who are or may become vagrants, paupers, mendicants, criminals, or invalids afflicted with contagious or infectious diseases, and from aliens otherwise dangerous or detrimental to the well-being or peace of the State, and to impose conditions upon which persons may reside in the State, and to provide the means and mode of their removal from the State, upon failure or refusal to comply with such conditions; provided, that nothing contained in this section shall be construed to impair or limit the power of the Legislature to pass such police laws or other regulations as it may deem necessary.

Sec. 2. No corporation now existing or hereafter formed under the laws of this State, shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, employ directly or indirectly, in any capacity, any Chinese or Mongolian. The Legislature shall pass such laws as may be necessary to enforce this provision.

Sec. 3. No Chinese shall be employed on any State, county, municipal, or other public work, except in punishment for crime.

Sec. 4. The presence of foreigners ineligible to become citizens of the United States is declared to be dangerous to the well-being or the State, and the Legislature shall discourage their immigration by all the means within its power, Asiatic coolieism is a form of human slavery, and is forever prohibited in this State, and all contracts for cooiie labor shall be void. All companies or corporations, whether formed in this country or any foreign country, for the importation of such labor, shall be subject to such penalties as the Legislature may prescribe. The Legislature shall delegate all necessary power to the Incorporated cities and towns of this State for the removal of Chinese without the limits of such cities and towns, or for their location within, prescribed portions of those limits, and it shall also provide the necessary legislation to prohibit the introduction into this State of Chinese after the adoption of this Constitution. This section shall he enforced by appropriate legislation.

7/01/2017 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shameful discrimination by anti-Chinese voters in California in 1879, compared with the favorable treatment by the pro-Chinese Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860's.

7/01/2017 2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see "Fake history: Researchers say there’s no evidence Chinese laborers died in race to complete railroad to Ottawa [Canada] 150 years ago." Lawrence Journal-World, December 24, 2017.

12/25/2017 11:06 PM  
Blogger 新疆老李 said...

I haven’t been checked this thread for about 4 years. However, I did point out Mr. J.H. Strobridge was In th picture of celebration himself 4 years ago.

You mean Mr. J.H. Strobridge' invited the 8 Chinese workers to join the lunch, then himself sneaked away to take the photo of celebration?

Not make sense. Unless you can provide proof.


2/12/2018 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See prior discussion.

Chinese workers were photographed at the May 10, 1869 joining of the rails ceremony. It is known that "J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car" and, as you, Cliff, previously pointed out that Strobridge appears in the A.J. Russell "champagne" photograph. With that proven, but no additional information, the rest is speculation. But, any claims that the Chinese railroad workers were excluded from the joining of the rails ceremony have been clearly disproved.

2/13/2018 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More of the same ...

"And finally the railroads meet in Utah at Promontory Point and that famous picture of the two iron horses there but the Chinese are not allowed to be in the picture. They're somewhere off to the side. They're out of the frame. They are there but they're not. And so they're erased from that history. And then once that railroad's done what happens to these Chinese?" K. Scott Wong, Historian, The American Experience, S30:E6, "The Chinese Exclusion Act" 5/29/2018

... "Lawmakers in Congress for their part still lead by radical Republicans whose principles have been forged in the fight against slavery continue to resist all efforts to get them to legislate against the Chinese on the basis of their race. But by 1875, the political dynamic in America had begun to shift as Democrats in Washington began to understand that the Chinese issue could be indispensable to the post Civil War rehabilitation of the Democratic Party. The issue of Chinese labor becomes a very easy one to galvanize the constituents of the Democratic Party, working men in particular, many of whom come from European immigrant background, would have been working class, would have been concerned about what appeared to be the flooding of Chinese workers into the nation. And that's where we don't have just simply a local story but one that then has large national resonance. The Democrats suggest that the Chinese labor were actually equivalent to black slaves. So you had this political pressure against the Republicans who are accused of advocating for Chinese coolies and so that makes it possible for the exclusion movement to get the support from the East Coast politicians."

6/03/2018 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chinese ... erased from that history"

Ridiculous: Information about the CPRR Chinese railroad workers is extremely well known!

6/03/2018 1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How America Convinced the World to Demonize Drugs: "Drug prohibition within the U.S. ... built almost entirely on racial prejudice." —J.S. Rafaeli

8/14/2018 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christopher MacMahon, a volunteer at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City and PhD student in history at the University of California Santa Barbara – PhD research examines the environmental impacts of early Nevada settlement, and how those ecological changes shaped relationships between Euro-American settlers and the Paiute and Washoe tribes.

Also see, "Chinese laborers take part in a festival during railroad construction at Dutch Flat. Photo courtesy of Placer County Museum."

1/08/2019 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see: Three Interpretations of the Role of Chinese Railroad Workers in the Construction of the Central Pacific Railroad by Calvin Miaw, March 8, 2015.

2/06/2019 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

2/12/2019 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see:

Chinese Pioneers in America

Clash of Civilizations – The Triumph of Racism

3/04/2019 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Leaders of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad lines meet and shake hands in this iconic photograph taken by Andrew J. Russell on May 10, 1869. Previous scholars and historians believed that there were no Chinese workers in this photo, but Stanford researchers identified two of them in the crowd. ... One of them is facing the camera, and one is turned away. They were part of the crew that laid the last rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, according to the researchers. (Image credit: Stanford Historical Photograph Collection, Stanford University Libraries)"

4/19/2019 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related.

5/08/2019 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe when celebrating the 100th anniversary of the railroad in 1969 referred to the workers who built the first transcontinental railroad as being "Americans." This language seems to be totally accepting of the 19th century immigrants from China and Ireland who built the first transcontinental railroad as having become American. Can't imagine anyone in 1969 thinking that sailing across the ocean to American to build the greatest engineering project of the 19th century to create a transcontinental America somehow might be insufficient to make these 19th century immigrants Americans.

5/08/2019 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See concerns about U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe's speech.

5/12/2019 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The transcontinental Railroad was constructed in the 1860's when the law was favorable to Chinese immigration. ("Under the terms of the Burlingame Treaty [1867], both [the United States and China] were to recognize 'the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects, respectively for purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents.'")

Confused about the anachronistic attribution a hundred years later of the exclusion policies of the 1880's to what happened in the 1860's.

5/12/2019 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the statement honoring the CPRR Chinese workers placed in the Congressional Record of May 10, 2019 by U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York repeats several of these same historical errors:

"these workers endured both the arduous physical labor of constructing a railroad and the emotional trauma of being discriminated. They were given the most difficult, dangerous jobs, and were paid lower wages than other workers. While working in the Sierras, Chinese workers hung in baskets, 2,000 feet above raging rivers, to blast into the impenetrable granite mountain — to make way for laying the tracks."

[Italics added to emphasize assertions not supported by the available primary source documentation.]

5/15/2019 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does disservice to the memory of these great people and their amazing accomplishments to make 21st century people believe myths about the Chinese workers' labor in constructing the Central Pacific Railroad, while trying to portray them as victims. They were free men who came to America desiring to labor building the first transcontinental railroad, which provided the opportunity to then return to China with their earned gold coins, having become wealthy by 19th century Chinese standards. The railroad management welcomed the Chinese workers, greatly valued their labor, and cheered their accomplishment at the railroad's completion.

5/15/2019 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see,

Racists kicked my Chinese ancestor out of America. He still loved the railroad he worked on. by Ava Chin, The Washington Post, May 16, 2019.

" ... my immigrant great-great-grandfather ... Yuan Son ... was a teenager when he arrived in California, a mere boy, one of upwards of 20,000 Chinese, mainly from the Pearl River Delta area (in Guangdong province), who made up the majority of the Central Pacific Railroad workforce. He, like most of the others, was raised in a poor farming family, in a country that had been hammered by drought, famine, Western colonialism, warlordism and one of the bloodiest civil wars of the 19th century ... Yuan Son resettled back into life in China and surprisingly spoke of the work he had done on the railroad with great pride. He even taught my grandfather his first words in English: 'Central Pacific,' 'Southern Pacific' and 'Union Pacific.' My chain-smoking grandfather repeated these names back to me through his ringing Cantonese intonations, in our home half a world away, as if he were a conductor calling out stations. ... "

Despite repeating many of the same historical myths, as noted above, this is an important family history, as it documents that in the mind of one of the Chinese laborers on the Central Pacific Railroad, the racism he later experienced was separate from the railroad that he built and loved. (Different treatment by different people at a different time.) His entirely justified pride about manually building the greatest engineering project of the 19th century is heartwarming. His great achievement should be cheered today, just as it was by the railroad management on the day of the railroad's completion. We can only wish that his descendant might come to a better understanding of the actual history so as to better separate her ancestor's earlier glorious achievement from the subsequent awful treatment, and so that the memory of the latter does not spoil the enjoyment of the former.

5/17/2019 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without the Chinese immigrants, the Central Pacific Railroad could not have been built. So it is not correct, as that article attempts, to equate today's illegal immigration with the entirely legal immigration of the 1860's Chinese railroad laborers who came to California based on merit, because they were desperately needed to fill the advertised railroad construction jobs. The Chinese did nothing wrong in coming to America and they were welcomed in the 1860's. It is unfortunate that a depression in 1873 (after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869) lead to 20% unemployment to which white labor regrettably responded with anti-Chinese racism.

5/17/2019 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Central Pacific Railroad management was pro-Chinese:

"I like the idea of your getting over more Chinamen ... It would be all the better for us and the state if there should a half million come over in 1868." —Collis Huntington, 1867

6/14/2019 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another similar mischaracterization,

"Toiling in heat and snow, often at high elevations, they worked longer each day than their white counterparts did, and at lower pay, and were frequent targets of racist aggression." —The New Yorker review of Ghosts of Gold Mountain, by Gordon H. Chang.

7/02/2019 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: The correct spelling of the name of the Nobel prize winning economist noted in a comment above is Milton Friedman.

7/12/2019 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An article in The Guardian, "'Forgotten by society' – how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad" repeats much of the same misinformation, as noted above:

"When one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. ... forgotten by society ... Chinese workers ... were paid less than American workers and lived in tents, while white workers were given accommodation in train cars. ... who used to shovel 20 pounds of rock over 400 times a day. ... explosions, snow and rock avalanches, which killed hundreds of workers ... 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. ... "

7/20/2019 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We know through newspaper accounts from the era that many of the workers had basic literacy and did indeed send letters home. But these letters have been lost due to the social upheavals and conflict in home villages in Guangdong in the 19th and 20th centuries ..."

Remembering the Forgotten Chinese Railroad Workers: Archaeologists help modern descendants of Chinese railroad laborers commemorate their ancestors, by Veronica Peterson, Sapiens, August 22, 2019.

Another wonderful article, that unfortunately repeats some of the same misinformation, as explained above.

8/24/2019 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the difference in welcoming treatment of Chinese in California in the 1860's when the transcontinental railroad was built versus the 1880's when the terrible Chinese Exclusion Act eventually became law, also see,

Presidential Speech of Chester A. Arthur, April 4, 1882, Veto of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

11/30/2019 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, CPRR Chinese Labor Payroll for March, 1865.

12/24/2019 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Additional documentation of the pro-Chinese attitude of the Central Pacific Railroad's management:

"A large majority of the white laboring class on the Pacific coast find more profitable and congenial employment in mining and agricultural pursuits, than in railroad work. The greater portion of the labors employed by us are Chinese who constitute a large element in the population of California. Without them it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprise within the time required by the Acts of Congress.… We have assurance from leading Chinese merchants that, under the just and liberal policy pursued by the company, it will be able to procure during the next year not less than 15,000 laborers. With this large force the company will be able to push on the work so as not only to complete it far within the time required by the Acts of Congress but so as to meet the public impatience." [Kraus 1969]

Governor Leland Stanford to President Andrew Johnson, letter dated October 10, 1865

1/19/2020 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if the following information is true or not, but sure sounds like the same misinformation, just applied to a different railroad. Such a shame, if it is another case of trying to turn an amazing and wonderful historic achievement into perceived victimhood, based on a misunderstanding of when and where 19th century Chinese immigrants were welcomed and highly valued versus when and where they were hated. Hope that the following discriminatory treatment wasn't true of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, just as it has been documented as not true of the Central Pacific Railroad workers. Please, someone knowledgeable about Canadian Pacific Railroad history – share the evidence as to what Chinese workers were actually paid in Canada compared to others, and what railroad construction deaths in Canada were documented in primary sources. Were there 5,000 Chinese workers on the Union Pacific Railroad at the time, that could have gone north to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad over the Rocky Mountains, or, perhaps were they instead former Central Pacific Railroad workers?

What follows is a transcript of a brief portion of the television documentary—

Building the Canadian Pacific Railroad through the Rocky Mountains at Fraser Canyon:
"To conquer the arduous terrain in the west, the Canadian government hired Andrew Onderdonk, an American engineer with a reputation for getting tough jobs done. He brought in Chinese workers from overseas and from the Union Pacific railroad in the United States. 'Five thousand came up north from the Union Pacific, 10,000 from Canton.' The Chinese workers in British Columbia were paid less then other laborers, despite giving the risky jobs like handling explosives and tunnel blasting. 'Estimates in just the [British Columbia] section alone range from 600 to 1,000 died over the five years of the construction project.' The bravery and sacrifice of the Chinese workers makes it possible for us to journey through this rugged landscape today."
—Mighty Trains (television series) S2:E1, 'Rocky Mountaineer,' October 14, 2018

3/01/2020 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Chinese Exclusion Act ... did nothing more than suspend 'the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States.' Laborers already here were not expelled, and if they wanted to return to China and then reenter the U.S., they were free to do so. The act did not prohibit the entry into the U.S. of Chinese businessmen, teachers, tourists, government officials, or any other class of Chinese but laborers." —Roger D. McGrath, Chronicles Magazine

7/20/2020 11:11 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see: Legacy – a tribute to Chinese railroad workers of the CPRR (U.S. Forest Serice Video).

3/20/2021 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similar misinformation in a Forbes column:

"Businesses are integral to the historic construction and contemporary maintenance of anti-Asian racism, beginning with the exploitation of Chinese laborers to build the Transcontinental Railroad in the mid to late 1800s. ... The company placed Chinese workers in the most dangerous jobs (e.g., tunneling, use of explosives), paid them lower wages than the White workers ... "

The final moments of the May 10, 1869 celebration at Promontory are completely inconsistent with the notion that the Central Pacific Railroad was engaged in "maintenance of anti-Asian racism." To the contrary:
"J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road ... a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."

Paying willing laborers comparable wages in gold coin sufficient to make them very wealthy by the contemporary standards of southern China is not exploitation.

While the number of worker deaths appears to have been exaggerated, the manual construction of the transcontinental railroad was certainly a difficult and dangerous occupation, but there is no reason to believe that the work of the CPRR Chinese workers was any different then the UPRR Irish workers, or that of any other contemporary rail construction project. Building the Panama Canal was much more dangerous work.

3/25/2021 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same misinformation, "They were paid less than other workers and denied room and board.", is repeated at "TRAVEL. RACE IN AMERICA. What can the transcontinental railroad teach us about anti-Asian racism? Chinese immigrants helped achieve ‘one of the greatest engineering feats in U.S. history.’ But their sacrifices are seldom remembered."

"Seldom remembered"? The Chinese railroad workers are the most commonly celebrated aspect of the CPRR construction.

That article states: "'For as long as Asians have been in America, we’ve been seen as outsiders who can’t be trusted, and that misperception has often led to tragic consequences,' says Chris Lu, former U.S. deputy secretary of labor. 'If you understand this history, you can better understand why the political rhetoric associating Asian Americans with COVID-19 is so unacceptable.'" While failing to acknowledge that, having nothing to do with race, gain in function virus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology artificially created Covid-19, which was negligently allowed to escape from the lab, while human to human spread was falsely denied, and travel within China was immediately halted, while international flights spreading Covid-19 were allowed to continue, causing a worldwide pandemic, killing millions.

The actual answer to their question "What can the transcontinental railroad teach us about anti-Asian racism?" is that the railroad construction illustrates economic concerns overcoming racism, with railroad management honoring and cheering the Chinese workers at the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

It is such a shame when people attempt to sully the memory of the greatest engineering project of the 19th century, and the historic contribution of the Chinese railroad workers toward building a transcontinental America.

5/19/2021 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Seldom remembered"? A Google search for "chinese transcontinental railroad" finds about 766,000 results!

5/19/2021 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article, With a Chinese American Gunslinger, He’s Challenging the Whiteness of Westerns reports that:

"Tom Lin is making his debut with The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, a novel ... The blood-thirsity robber Ming Tsu in Tom Lin’s real New Western possesses a deadly superpower: his victims, blinded by their own prejudice, don’t realize it until it’s too late. In a gruesome scene, he confronts his nemesis, the head of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, which forced Ming to live in slavery for a decade."

Slavery? For a decade? Nonsense. Again, getting the history all wrong, according to the 19th century congressional testimony. The Chinese were not slaves, were paid comparable wages in gold, making them wealthy by the standards of 19th century southern China, and they were cheered by the railroad management at the completion of the transcontinental railroad ceremony.

5/31/2021 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the mid-nineteenth century, the United States encouraged Chinese immigration. Anson Burlingame, President Abraham Lincoln’s minister to China, advocated an open door for Chinese immigrants when he negotiated an 1868 treaty bearing his name providing for unrestricted immigration between the United States and China." —Terelle Jerricks

6/11/2021 5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cultural values of many 21st century Asian-American individuals and families easily overcome any residual racism, and can lead to stunning success. "Relative to other racial and ethnic minorities, they live in wealthier neighborhoods, have high marriage rates, high levels of educational achievement, and are successful in the labor market. The most striking success of Asian-Americans, and the one most commonly highlighted in the media, is in educational attainment. While 36 percent of whites, 23 percent of blacks, and 16 percent of Hispanics have a bachelor's degree or more, 54 percent of Asians do. Furthermore, while 14 percent of whites have advanced degrees, 21 percent of Asian-Americans do."

America should remain the land of individual opportunity, merit, and freedom, where people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, and resist leftist demands to create a tribal society of waring racial groups based on immutable characteristics, to the detriment of all. The growing demands for reinstating racial discrimination, aimed at the success particularly of Asian-Americans is a disgusting throwback to historic racism, now advocated as a "woke" American version of Marxism termed "critical race theory," or "diversity, equity, and inclusion," for example, to deny admission of the best students to the elite high schools and universities, based on their race. These false, evil, damaging ideas need to be defeated, as they are (despite rhetoric to the contrary) just more discrimination, plain and simple.

8/04/2021 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Chinese Railroad Workers’ Experience [an Exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum] offers visitors a view of the Chinese workers who built the western portion of the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad. Marginalized by history, the Chinese workers were more than a nameless group of laborers. The Central Pacific Railroad needed a large workforce to meet the challenge of building a railroad over the Sierra Nevada. Using only hand tools, Chinese workers comprised ninety percent of the labor force that achieved this impossible task. Chinese immigrants experienced extreme prejudice from white workers who felt threatened by them dating back to their arrival in California for the Gold Rush. Their experience culminates with the first congressional act designed to restrict the immigration of an entire race of people—The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882."

This description, unfortunately, does not distinguish between the welcome that the valued Chinese workers eventually received from the Central Pacific Railroad Management and the governments of the U.S. and China in the 1860's, from the virulent racism from white labor and the Working Man's Party which occurred later (in the 1870's and 1880's), after a depression caused extremely high labor unemployment. It also does not provided a needed nuanced explanation that the 1882 act only excluded additional new Chinese laborers from coming to America, did not prevent other Chinese immigrants from coming and going, and did not expel anyone.

8/24/2021 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As noted above, although CPRR management was mostly pro-Chinese 1860's railroad worker immigration, in the years following the completion of the transcontinental railroad, there was increasingly virulent anti-Chinese racism in California, for example in Truckee:

"In 1879, California amended its state constitution with the notorious Article XIX, which forbade any California state corporation to 'employ directly or indirectly, in any capacity, any Chinese or Mongolian.' "

8/27/2021 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CPRR interests were very resistant to the anti-Chinese sentiment in Truckee 1878-1886 which ultimately resulted in the large Chinese lumbering community there being prevented from rebuilding after a fire, and (discrimination being uneconomic) the railroad switched to coal to boycott the whites in Truckee who wanted to overcharge for wood after they had expelled the Chinese, and allowed the Chinese to "relocate across the river on land donated by the Central Pacific Railroad."

8/27/2021 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The testimony of J. H. Strobridge (US Pacific Railway Commission, pp 3139-41) that both white and Chinese laborer were paid the same wages of $35/month (in 1866 when Chinese employment by the CPRR peaked) contradicts the following claim. It is also unreasonable to think that the 19th century CPRR's inability to have been able to serve Chinese food is somehow discriminatory. Since the Chinese labor provided most of the workers who constructed the railroad, of course that necessarily included difficult and dangerous work, as that was the nature of railroad construction everywhere in the 1860's:

“'Chinese received 30-50 percent lower wages than whites for the same job and they had to pay for their own food stuffs,' Chang says. 'They also had the most difficult and dangerous work, including tunneling and the use of explosives. There is also evidence they faced physical abuse at times from some supervisors. They protested these and the long hours and they used their collective strength to challenge the company.'”
Building the Transcontinental Railroad: How 20,000 Chinese Immigrants Made It Happen by Lesley Kennedy

10/01/2021 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The online essay The Transcontinental Railroad's Dark Costs: Exploited Labor, Stolen Lands – Chinese immigrant workers and Indigenous tribes paid a particularly high price again repeats most of these historical errors, as noted above – and more, while failing to adequately distinguish between the CPRR and UPRR – all apparently through a lens of oppression/victimhood which regrettably does a great disservice to both historical accuracy and to the memory of the railroad workers' and their great accomplishment.

10/08/2021 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High price? Exploitation? No, $35/month in gold coin for unskilled labor, allowing railroad workers to save 2/3 of their income, and making them rich.

10/08/2021 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UPRR was at war with native Americans. The CPRR had cordial relations with native Americans, and included them on their workforce:

" ... Charlie Crocker had made sure of that by issuing lifetime passes to Shoshoni, Cheyenne and other local chieftains permitting them to ride the passenger cars, and had also decreed that tribesmen of lesser rank might ride the freight cars free for 30 years."

10/09/2021 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, :“Silent Spikes explores history of Chinese transcontinental railroad worker ... "

11/09/2021 5:49 AM  
Blogger said...


1/22/2022 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Updating the current gold price (for a prior post, above) that claims that workers' "hazardous labor earns them only pennies a day" while the truth is that they were paid (adjusting for the current price of gold) about $2,751/month or $92/day as uneducated laborers with no experience.

[They were paid approximately 1.5 ounces of gold per month as $30 in gold coin, so the calculation is 1.5 oz gold x $1834/oz gold ÷ 30 days.]

1/22/2022 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The American Library Association ... announced the winners of the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Tom Lin won the fiction honor for The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu (Little, Brown) ... Lin's award-winning novel follows Ming Tsu as he seeks to find and kill the men who beat him, stole his wife, and sentenced him to 10 years of forced labor building the Central Pacific Railroad. The ALA judges called Lin’s 'beautifully imagined first novel' a 'transcendent epic.' The New York Times praised Lin for reimagining the American Western by 'centering the story on people who helped build the West but have often been erased from its mythology.'"

'Reimagining the American Western' is a nice way of saying 'historical nonsense!' Very few Chinese wives in 1860's California. No sentences of forced labor building the CPRR ever happened, and Chinese labor actually building the CPRR took much less than ten years. And as explained above 'erased from its mythology' is more mythology. So fiction it is.

1/25/2022 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disgraceful what happens when crime is deliberately not prosecuted by radical district attorneys sponsored by George Soros:

"San Francisco police data shows 567% increase in reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans. One man allegedly responsible for half of San Francisco's hate crimes ... " Dani Anguiano

"Victim In 'Brutal' Chinatown Attack Sues San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin Amid Shocking Jump In Anti-Asian Hate Crimes." Kenny Choi

1/28/2022 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is the story of Ming, an orphaned son of Chinese immigrants, raised by the notorious leader of a California crime syndicate who trained him to be his deadly enforcer. When Ming falls in love with Ada, the daughter of a powerful railroad magnate, the two elope and seize the opportunity to escape to a different life. But in a violent raid, Ada’s tycoon father’s henchmen kidnap her and conscript Ming into service for the Central Pacific Railroad. Ming escapes and takes off on a journey to avenge all who have wronged him and to rescue his wife." –‘The Thousand Crimes Of Ming Tsu’ Novel To Get TV Adaptation By Topic Studios & Blue Marble Pictures by Denise Petski and Nellie Andreeva

Since this fiction apparently is so very far removed from historical reality, it would have been better to use a fictional railroad name.

2/12/2022 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More of the same:

" ... the story of building that railroad is not a shinning part of American history. ... What does bother you, however, is the way these natives treat you. ... died in an accident last week, and they didn't even bother to bury him. ... Chinese immigrant labor ... the history of these immigrant workers was one of mistreatments. ... Sheds and tunnels collapsing, landslides, freezing conditions, explosives, even poor diet, these were all threats to the safety of railroad workers. ... hundreds more died while constructing the Central Pacific Railroad ... Chinese workers were being treated worse than native workers in employment. ... Chinese workers were put on the most dangerous jobs while being paid less. ... the Chinamen workers were given lower wages ... for the same work, they were being paid less. ... Chinese were being paid without board the same wages that Europeans were being paid with board ... "

Why Was The Transcontinental Railroad Important?, Rebellion Research, March 8, 2022

3/10/2022 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... Historical exclusion and long-standing prejudices ... :

" ... Many are familiar with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Fewer are aware of the Page Act of 1875, one of the first laws passed by Congress to restrict immigration to the United States based on a combination of race and gender. The Page Act barred entry of Asian women immigrants on the premise that they were 'lewd and immoral[.]' The language of the statute explicitly forbade 'the importation of women for the purposes of prostitution.' It especially affected Chinese female immigrants, whom the U.S. government cast as seeking entry into the United States as prostitutes. ... Western states increasingly used state and local laws to police morality. They helped drive a strategy to exclude sex workers generally and then to over-enforce those laws to effectively exclude Chinese women specifically. Even though studies indicate that only 6 percent of prostitutes in California were Chinese, at least eight state laws were created to single out Chinese women. ... U.S. consular officials in Hong Kong responsible for the examination of Chinese immigrants before they traveled exerted great effort enforcing this law [California congressman Horace Page's 'Page Act'], even without specific evidentiary standards for determining whether a woman applying to enter the United States was a prostitute. Indeed, immigration of Chinese women decreased substantially. ... "

Margaret Hu and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, The Washington Post, March 16, 2022

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

3/17/2022 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that the discriminatory Page Act was passed in 1875, after the crash of 1873, six years after the completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869, and almost a decade after the peak of Chinese railroad worker employment to build the CPRR.

3/17/2022 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, Page Act 1875.

3/17/2022 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plaque Honoring Chinese Narrow Gauge Rail Workers Designated a Historical Landmark, by Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission:

“In the race to build the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Central Pacific Railroad recruited over ten thousand young men from China, creating a skilled and dependable work force. Upon completion many of these workers, who had come to America under contract for employment, returned home to China. Others remained to find employment building railroads throughout the United States.

This site marks one end of the 22-mile Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad that connected Nevada City and Grass Valley with Colfax and the Central Pacific Railroad. After construction of the NCNGRR started in 1875, over three hundred Chinese immigrants labored to build the railroad. They built the railroad grade over the rugged and uneven terrain between Colfax and Grass Valley, scaling canyons, filling ravines, and prepared the way for bridges and trestles. Using hand tools, horse drawn scrapers, hand carts and their determination, they completed the task in early 1876. Although considered more dependable than white workers, they were paid less.

When the railroad was completed in 1876 most of the Chinese moved on to other railroad construction projects, A few Chinese workers remained as track workers maintaining the NCNGRR. Apart from laboring on the railroad, several Chinese businessmen in Nevada City were investors and retained stock in the company into the 20th century. The contributions of Chinese immigrants were an essential element in the building and success of the NCNGRR.”

[Landmark NEV 22-01 to commemorates the Chinese workers who were integral in building the Narrow Gauge Railroad. Applicant Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is sponsoring a plaque which is expected to be placed this coming summer near the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad kiosk at the corner of Sacramento Street and Railroad Avenue in Nevada City.]

What is the primary source evidence that, regarding Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Chinese workers, in 1875-1876: "Although considered more dependable than white workers, they were paid less."?

[Courtesy Google Alerts]

3/30/2022 6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ... Chinese crews were routinely marginalized, subjected to poor treatment, racist oversight and negligible support from their employers. ... white workers earned $35 a month on top of full room, board and equipment. Chinese workers, by contrast, earned a salary of $30 and nothing else. 'Not only were they paid less than their white counterparts,' [Gordon Chang, a historian at Stanford University and the author of 2019’s Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad] says. 'They also had to pay for their food, supplies and medicine, all of which the railroad company provided to white workers.' What little money the Chinese workers saved, they sent back to their families."

"What Archaeologists Are Learning About the Lives of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad: In the sparse Utah desert, the vital contributions of these 19th-century laborers are finally coming to light." Smithsonian Magazine, April, 2022

4/01/2022 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But according to the Testimony of J. H. Strobridge, US Pacific Railway Commission, pp 3139-41, in 1866, the year of highest Chinese railroad worker employment with 11,000 Chinese workers, and 2,500 - 3,000 white workers, the rate of pay was the same for both at $35 a month.

This CPRR worker salary in gold coin, was hardly "little money," being an inflation adjusted $3,284/month for unskilled labor, enabling the Chinese railroad workers to save 2/3 of their income, allowing them to become wealthy.

Having the Chinese railroad workers being honored and cheered by CPRR management at the railroad's completion, does not seem consistent with the claim that they were "routinely marginalized, subjected to poor treatment, racist oversight and negligible support from their employers," nor does Collis Huntington's 1867 statement that "I like the idea of your getting over more Chinamen ... It would be all the better for us and the state if there should a half million come over in 1868."

4/01/2022 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same errors are repeated:

"Around the same time as the war, in the early to mid-1860s, the Central Pacific Railroad was recruiting Chinese laborers to work on the country’s first transcontinental railroad after an insufficient number of white workers responded to its ads. Doing extremely dangerous and exhausting work while being paid less than their white counterparts, these estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Chinese migrants were essential to what has been described as “one of the most ambitious American engineering enterprises at the time” — despite the lack of recognition they receive even to this day."

"Doing extremely dangerous and exhausting work ... " certainly true, but that was just the nature of railroad construction in the 1860's, and much less dangerous than often claimed.

No, " ... while being paid less than their white counterparts" as both were paid $35/month in gold coin in the year when the CPRR's Chinese railroad worker employment peaked.

"lack of recognition" seems a peculiar concern when the critical role of Chinese workers is probably the most well known fact about the CPRR construction.

4/24/2022 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These errors are repeated in a series of articles about Chinese immigrants and the May 10th Anniversary of the joining of the rails, Part I and Part II, also with misidentified images, for example showing Chinese workers on the Canadian Pacific Railroad c. 1884, not the Central Pacific Railroad as claimed.

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

5/13/2022 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see,

Print Satirizing Denis Kearney, the Leader of the Anti-Chinese Movement in San Francisco, c. 1877.

5/23/2022 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See: The work of Chinese railroad workers endangered.

"A national preservation group warns that vandalism threatens a piece of American history made possible by the Chinese who built the Transcontinental Railroad. The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Summit Tunnels Number 6 and Number 7 and Summit camp as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" for 2021. The National Trust wants to raise awareness about the threats facing one of the nation's greatest treasures as part of our American history. ... "

"The 15 tunnels covered a serpentine route of about 62 miles through the Sierra Nevada near Lake Spaulding and Donner Lake; the tunnels paralleled the Truckee River, northwest of Lake Tahoe. It was a single-track line with 2% grades, with a mix of eight tangents and seven curves. The 15 tunnels totaled 6,213 feet in length. In August 1866, the company of Chinese railroad workers (100 total) began their challenging work on the tunnels. They worked three shifts per day under the supervision of two Irish foremen. From November 1866 to May 1867, 44 snowstorms dumped 44 feet 7 ¾ inches of snow. Chinese railroad workers were organized into four crews. They dug and simultaneously blasted from the west and the east with two crews. From the center, in a central shaft (8 feet by 12 feet), two crews dug the center out towards both ends. They applied black powder and nitroglycerine to blast the solid granite. At an elevation of 6,931 feet, Summit Tunnel was the longest tunnel at 1,659 feet. Its greatest depth was 124 feet below the surface. Its dimensions were a rectangular 16 feet by 11 feet with a semi-circle arch of a radius of 8 feet. The Chinese railroad workers completed, graded, and tracked the Summit Tunnel on November 30, 1867. The Summit Tunnel Conservation Association's mission is to protect and preserve the 1867 Transcontinental Railroad Tunnel Area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They are pursuing the National Historic Landmark designation from the National Park Service. It will illustrate its significant historical meaning for Americans. ... "

5/30/2022 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same errors are repeated:

From the community: Stanford’s history is inextricably linked with Asian American history, The Stanford Daily (Stanford University Newspaper) op-ed, May 31, 2022:

" ... They were often assigned the most dangerous work, such as setting off explosives and digging tunnels through unyielding granite.4 When the transcontinental railroad that linked the nation’s two coasts was completed in 1869, it was largely due to these workers’ blood, sweat and tears, despite being compensated significantly less than white laborers. ... ", citing,

Building the Transcontinental Railroad: How 20,000 Chinese Immigrants Made It Happen:

" ... even though they made major contributions to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, these 15,000 to 20,000 Chinese immigrants have been largely ignored by history. ... Of course the large number of immigrants working for Central Pacific and their hard work didn’t mean they were well-treated or well-compensated for their efforts. According to the Project, Chinese workers hired in 1864 were paid $26 a month, working six days a week. They eventually held an eight-day strike in June of 1867. Chinese received 30-50 percent lower wages than whites for the same job and they had to pay for their own food stuffs ... They also had the most difficult and dangerous work, including tunneling and the use of explosives. There is also evidence they faced physical abuse at times from some supervisors. They protested these and the long hours and they used their collective strength to challenge the company. ... "

Again, as noted above, instead the testimony of J. H. Strobridge (US Pacific Railway Commission, pp 3139-41) was that both white and Chinese laborer were paid the same wages of $35/month (in 1866 when Chinese employment by the CPRR peaked), and the Chinese railroad workers were able to save 2/3 of their salary to become wealthy by the standards of 19th century southern China.

6/01/2022 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honor "unsung heroes of railroad."

'Honor' - definitely!

'Unsung' - Nope: They were cheered at the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and today 'round the world.

7/24/2022 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similar mistakes here too.

8/27/2022 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

9/05/2022 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similar mistakes ...

How the Transcontinental railroad forever changed the US, by Ellen Lee (Rediscovering America BBC Travel series):

" ... the story of the Chinese labourers who built the track has largely been forgotten ... 'You can almost feel the pain it took' ... the project also devastated forests, displaced many Native American tribes and rapidly expanded Anglo-European influence across the country. And it came at a heavy cost: an estimated 1,200 Chinese labourers died during the six-year construction, and those that survived endured racial discrimination and threats. ... It feels eerie – and yes, painful – to stand at the entrance of one of the tunnels and see the small shaft of sunlight at the other end, knowing not only how difficult it was to carve that opening, but also how poorly the Chinese labourers were treated. At one point, in an effort to speed up construction, they worked around the clock, each crew shrouded in darkness for hours at a time. ... a legacy that was long erased from US history ... some were only paid half as much as white labourers ... The CPRR also didn't bother keeping track of their identities ... "

12/23/2022 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The claim that the Chinese were "forgotten" is contradicted by this Southern Pacific publicity photo c. 1939-1949 of their 'Central Pacific Railroad' train accompanied by Chinese.

1/13/2023 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Railroad That Changed America Forever

"You can almost feel the pain it caused ... And its human cost was high: An estimated 1,200 Chinese workers died during the six years of its construction—and those who survived faced threats and racial discrimination ... It's strange—and, yes, difficult—to stand at the entrance to one of the tunnels and watch the tiny ray of sunlight glinting at the other end, knowing not only how difficult it was to excavate that passage, but also how poorly the Chinese workers were treated. There was a time when, in an attempt to speed up construction, they worked around the clock, with crews plunged into darkness for hours at a time. ... a legacy that had long since been erased from American history ... But despite their dedication, there were Chinese workers who received only half the pay of white workers ... Nor did the CPRR bother to record their identities ... "

This article repeats the same errors, as discussed above: Not likely 1,200 dead, fails to distinguish 1860's mostly pro-Chinese railroad management vs. later anti-Chinese sentiment by labor in the following decades, difficult yes but manual railroad construction was what existed at the time so had nothing to do with race or mistreatment, having multiple shifts working around the clock is not mistreatment, underground tunnels are dark 24 hours a day and depend on artificial lighting so day/night is irrelevant, legacy of Chinese builders of the transcontinental railroad is very well known, Chinese were paid about the same as other laborers, Chinese workers were not hired by the CPRR but by construction company under contracts with Six Companies, many Chinese names appear in the railroad employment records at the California State Railroad Museum, CPRR management could not read names written using Chinese characters, temporary graves of Chinese recorded their names until their bones could be returned to China, failure to realize that railroad construction using the Chinese workers continued south to Los Angeles following completion of the transcontinental railroad.

2/08/2023 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not having a complete list of the names of all the Chinese workers who built the transcontinental railroad certainly cannot be used as evidence of discrimination because there is also no such list of the large number of non-Chinese workers who also built the first transcontinental railroad.

2/08/2023 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Microsoft Bing's new search using artificial intelligence, unfortunately retrieves these same errors from the internet when asked about Chinese railroad workers on the Central Pacific Railroad. GIGO.

2/23/2023 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent article has a picture caption stating incorrectly that "No Chinese were invited to 1869 Last Spike celebration."

Not only were Chinese invited, they were the ones who actually joined the rails, were photographed at the celebration, and they were honored and cheered by the railroad management at the end of the ceremony, as explained above.

3/21/2023 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part II of that article quotes that "Central Pacific recognized the work ethic and impressive productivity of its Chinese corps, but not enough to pay them the same wage as European Americans."

But, as explained above, that does not appear to be correct because both Chinese and 'European Americans' were paid equally, receiving the same $35/month in gold coin in 1866, the year when the CPRR's Chinese railroad worker employment peaked.

3/21/2023 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same misunderstanding:

"Chinese laborers, who made up the backbone of the Central Pacific Railroad’s construction, were not represented in the photograph, according to the National Park Service and Google."

5/07/2023 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet again ...

" ... Chinese workers were seen as racially inferior to white workers in America. Employers used this prejudice to justify paying Chinese workers less and relegating them to undesirable jobs, [forgotten workers] according to the [Smithsonian] National Museum of American History." ... ["There is historical documentation that at least 100 Central Pacific workers died in a single avalanche while building through the Sierra Nevada Mountains."]

5/16/2023 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not 100, instead ...

"The bulk of the slide had passed over and piled itself up beyond the house, so that it was only covered fifteen feet deep. Only three were killed ... (The snow slides) were so frequent across the trail leading to Tunnel No. 9, some fifteen or twenty Chinamen were killed by a slide about this time. The year before, two road repairers had been killed and buried, too, by a slide, and their bodies were not found until spring."

5/16/2023 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again ...

"The laborers' task was often perilous. Six Chinese men were killed in an explosion at a camp in Colfax in 1866; multiple Chinese laborers were killed in 1867 during an avalanche as they worked to open a track through Emigrant Gap, according to news stories on one panel. Workers died from falls, landslides, Native American raids, blasting accidents and disease. ... They also faced fierce racism and sinophobia on and off the job. Chinese workers were forced to pay for their own food, lodging and tools while their non-Chinese counterparts were not, and they were paid less."

5/18/2023 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'Iron Horse Road' explores immigrants' role in 1860s railroad expansion."

"the construction of the transcontinental connecting railroad, built by some 20,000 Chinese and other East Asian immigrants from 1863 to 1869 and stretching 690 miles from Sacramento through Promontory Summit in Utah. The project resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 workers, said Hao Huang, the project’s historical consultant."

But this appears to be overestimating mortality.

7/16/2023 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similarly, in a National Geographic article, These Chinese immigrants opened the doors to the American West, Philip Cheung states that, " ... descendants are still fighting for recognition ... [Chinese workers constructing the Central Pacific Railroad] lived in segregated areas, earned less than their white counterparts ... Descendants, historians, and activists are fighting for recognition of the Chinese workers' contributions. ... the Chinese weren't allowed to be buried where the white people were. ... "

Note however, that deceased Chinese railroad workers were returned to China for reburial.

But importantly, this article gives another confirmation of recognition afforded to a Chinese railroad worker, honored by Central Pacific Railroad management:
"Vicki Tong Chung's great-grandfather, Mock Chuck, was a foreman for the Central Pacific Railroad. She is the keeper of the gold watch gifted to Chuck in 1875 for his service, passed down through their family for generations. ... "

7/22/2023 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related.

7/26/2023 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This favorable to Chinese immigration 1860's official language in the year prior to the completion of the transcontinental railroad is in stark contrast with the later hostility in the subsequent two decades:

"The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respecctively, from one country to the other, for the purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents."
Burlingame Treaty with China, proclaimed July 28, 1868

8/22/2023 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They don’t talk about it because they feel entitled to all of it which is to be expected from that feeder school for the Silicon Valley elites built with blood money from the Central Pacific Railroad."

Wrong and utterly ridiculous. Stanford University was built by Leyland Stanford, in memory of his son who died, using funds which he eared by investing in the building the CPRR, but it certainly was not blood money. Most likely an example of getting the history wrong, overestimating deaths, not understanding that the dangers of building a 19th century railroad could not have been prevented at the time, coupled with an irrational hatred for business. An especially silly claim, considering that train travel decreased travel mortality by about 60 times.

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

8/24/2023 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U.S. Department of Labor 2014
"Hall of Honor Inductee: The Chinese Railroad Workers (1865 — 1869)
From 1865-1869, 12,000 Chinese immigrants constructed the western section of the transcontinental railroad – one of the greatest engineering feats in American history. Their efforts, which connected the western United States to the eastern United States, laid the foundation for the extraordinary economic prosperity enjoyed by the United States in the years that followed. Many of these workers risked their lives and perished during the harsh winters and dangerous working conditions. They faced prejudice, low wages and social isolation. Despite these challenges, they courageously took a stand to organize for fairer wages and safer working conditions. Their efforts not only bridged our nation together, they advanced the cause of good, safe jobs for all workers, immigrant and native workers alike."

Why is $35/month in gold coins considered "low wages"?

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

9/14/2023 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It also undermines confidence in the veracity of historical writings and video's when they are carelessly illustrated with images that are misrepresented by claiming that they show Chinese railroad workers on the Central Pacific Railroad, when that is untrue.

9/19/2023 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Talking with Ye Chun" author of 'Straw Dogs of the Universe' by Blaise Zerega, Alta Journal, October 17, 2023:
" ... a devastating novel that lays bare the hollow promise of the California dream for Chinese immigrants of the 19th century ... captures the brutal racism and violence inflicted upon these newcomers ... find low-paying employment on the transcontinental railroad ... incredibly dangerous work performed by Chinese laborers ... calamity strikes while blasting a tunnel ... my great-great-grandfather had built the large two-story house my father grew up in with the money he'd made overseas."

Notice that while fictional yet repeating the same errors about the history, again, when actual historical detail emerges, it is of the opposite of "low-paying employment", and instead it is that author, Ye Chun's, "paternal great-great-grandfather had come [to California] to build the transcontinental railroad" with the result that he later returned to China to "built the large two-story house my father grew up in with the money he'd made overseas," providing additional evidence that the Chinese railroad workers on the Central Pacific Railroad indeed did actually return to China, wealthy by the standards of 19th century China.

10/18/2023 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same mistakes, repeated with great enthusiasm, and illustrated by an image that is probably not of the Central Pacific Railroad:

"The construction of the Central Pacific Railroad ... However, the story behind this colossal infrastructure project holds a dark chapter: the exploitation and mistreatment of Chinese immigrants who toiled under harsh conditions to build the railroad. ... Chinese immigrants, who, like so many other immigrant groups, were willing to take on the demanding work for the promise of employment and a better life. .... These individuals faced dire circumstances and were subjected to appalling treatment. They endured long hours, meager pay, and perilous working conditions. The work was physically demanding, involving the laborious tasks of laying tracks through treacherous terrains such as mountains and deserts. Beyond the hardships of the work itself, Chinese laborers were often treated as expendable, facing discrimination, racism, and intensely harsh living conditions. They were grossly underpaid in comparison to their white counterparts and were given the most dangerous tasks, leading to a high number of injuries and fatalities among the Chinese workforces. Furthermore, living conditions for these laborers were abysmal. They resided in overcrowded and unsanitary camps, lacking proper shelter and very basic necessities. Discriminatory laws and practices exacerbated their plight, denying them basic rights and subjecting them to systemic injustices. ... "
Forgotten Heroes — The Chinese Laborers and the Central Pacific Railroad by Gena Vazquez, 'California Dreaming'

11/25/2023 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is "appalling" is for modern authors to get the history wrong, yet while admitting that the Chinese workers on the Central Pacific Railroad "were willing to take on the demanding work for the promise of employment and a better life" but then to substitute their own anachronistic and moralistic judgments for the actual choices made by those brave men at-the-time to gladly cross the Pacific ocean to accept the railroad construction employment, the ample remuneration (sufficient to allow those manual laborers to save 2/3 of their essentially equal incomes to allow them to later return to China wealthy), the wilderness working conditions and hardships, and, to exaggerate the at-the-time unavoidable dangers that prevailed at that moment in history with all such railroad construction, while making false charges of "racism" against the CPRR managers who actually mostly favored and honored the Chinese workers.

11/26/2023 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see the two-day Gold Mountain Tour in the fall of 2023.

1/20/2024 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, unfortunate misinformation:

" ... Much of the building was done by thousands of laborers brought in from China, but their faces were left out of photographs taken on that momentous day. ... History — at least photographically — says that the Chinese were not present ... The Chinese railroad workers were widely discriminated against. ... "

and also the comment "This account is missing that Chinese laborers completed most of the work on the railroad and were excluded from the completion ceremony."

As explained above, to the contrary, the Chinese were present at the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, the Chinese laid the last rails, ties, and spikes, they were photographed there, were included in the famous painting of the event, and the Chinese workers were cheered by railroad management for their contributions.

1/21/2024 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ... how the Chinese built the Central Pacific Railroad as part of the US Transcontinental Railroad. They were given the most dangerous and arduous sections."

An odd comment since the Chinese railroad workers built the entire CPRR, and were the dominant workforce, except in Utah, where Mormon contractors built. But even in Utah, in the last week of construction, Chinese workers built the record ten mile day, and did the joining of the rails at Promontory.

1/30/2024 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some historians have called the late 1800s Chinese immigrants the 'silent spikes,' for the way they were systematically anonymized — newspapers and books written during that time knowingly omitted the workers’ names, and they were rarely featured in photographs."

2/18/2024 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, unfortunately confusing the history of the 1860’s experience of building the Central Pacific Railroad with management mostly pro-Chinese (see above), versus the aftermath of the panic of 1873 causing extremely high unemployment with labor adopting virulently anti-Chinese racism:

"In the aftermath of the US Civil War (1861-65), the victorious Union wanted to reunite the country. Part of doing so meant settling the West, or America’s vast interior. To do so, it needed to build a railroad through this interior. In building the Transcontinental Railroad, which stretched from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Francisco, California, thousands of workers were needed in California for the Central Pacific Railroad. These low-cost laborers came from China and performed backbreaking labor in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sadly, these workers often met only racism and discrimination, which was capped by the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. ... "

4/04/2024 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making stuff up is not history ...

"During freezing cold days, some construction workers tossed cans of frozen normally liquid nitroglycerin to others without thinking about it, it saved steps and frozen 'nitro' was safe. Only as liquid was it dangerous; it could explode by accident. American workers never threw cans of the frozen explosive around. American workers didn’t like it anyway, they preferred dynamite. ... Stuffed into ocean-going ships, 13,000-15,000 Chinese came. Winter didn’t bother them. Zero temperatures that froze nitroglycerin made work easier. 'White Anglo' supervisors would watch and appreciate a long line of Chinese tossing frozen cans of nitro, man to man, up the side of a mountain because that saved time and time was money."

Blasting for the Central Pacific Railroad used black powder, and some nitroglycerin made on site for the summit tunnel. Just invented dynamite was never used for the CPRR construction.

4/05/2024 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"nitro was frozen for safer transport, as frozen nitroglycerin was considered almost completely inert. Manufacturing nitro was much more efficient then manufacturing black powder."

Except that nitroglycerin was manufactured on site for the summit tunnel, so there was no transporting of that explosive.

4/05/2024 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spelling correction: Leland Stanford

4/10/2024 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Utilizing mostly hand tools and a dangerous mix of nitroglycerin and black powder, these workers chiseled and blasted through the granite fortress of the Sierra Nevada mountains to build 15 tunnels. They endured frostbite and avalanches that came with the harsh winters. More than one thousand Chinese workers are estimated to have lost their lives while building the railroad."
-University of Utah

"dangerous mix of nitroglycerin and black powder" makes no sense.
"They endured frostbite" - is this verified by any primary source?
"More than one thousand Chinese workers are estimated to have lost their lives while building the railroad." seems to overestimate the deaths.

4/19/2024 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ... Golden Spike National Historical Park also preserves evidence of Chinese American railroad workers, whose often-unacknowledged efforts ushered in a new era for the United States."
Albuquerque Journal

"often-unacknowledged" - no, not really, as almost every mention of the Central Pacific Railroad construction talks about the Chinese railroad workers. Can anyone supply links to any actual examples of online descriptions of the CPRR construction that fail to acknowledge the Chinese railroad workers?

4/19/2024 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strangely, it seems much closer to the truth to observe based on Google Alerts for many years that essentially every article about the CPRR construction acknowledges the Chinese railroad workers while misreporting that [supposedly in all the other writings that] the Chinese railroad workers are "unacknowledged" i.e., "missing", "forgotten", "silent", "unsung", "not represented", etc. Very peculiar, as the role of the Chinese workers was celebrated by railroad management at the RR's completion and now the Chinese worker's role seems actually to be the most widely known part of the history of the Central Pacific Railroad's construction.

4/19/2024 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So many of the stories of the Chinese railroad workers were lost. They were never told or they were ignored. They did the hardest work for the lowest pay, and many of them didn't even have their names recorded. It's my privilege and responsibility to make sure that our communities are all being seen and heard,"
Karen Kwan, the first and only Chinese American senator and legislator in Utah

"the lowest pay"? As noted above, the Chinese and Caucasian laborers were both paid $35/month in gold coin in 1866 when Chinese employment by the CPRR peaked.

5/13/2024 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Truckee’s Chinatowns: Between 1867 and 1886 there were two Chinatowns in Truckee. The first Chinatown sprouted up along Jibboom Street. This supported Chinese working as subcontractors for the Central Pacific Railroad building the Transcontinental Railroad. The Old Truckee Jail was built on former Chinese property after a large fire in 1875. After even more fires continually destroyed parts of downtown Truckee, a second Chinatown was planned and developed in 1879. It was located just across the railroad tracks and the Truckee River Bridge. In late 1885 and early 1886, an 'economic boycott' was employed to effectively rid the town of Chinese. ... "
—Plaque commemorating Truckee's Chinatowns dedicated ... 'The Union'

5/16/2024 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“'Dot, dot, dot, D-O-N-E' This was the telegraph message relayed to President Grant and around the nation at 12:47 P.M. on May 10th, 1869 from Promontory Point, Utah. The celebration that ensued marked the revolution of travel across the United States. But the celebration was far from DONE as the famous 'champagne photo' of the ceremony of placing the Golden Spike largely excluded the Chinese railroad workers that played a key part at the 'Wedding of the Rails.' ... at the Utah State Capitol on May 9th, 2014, ... 'an act of Photographic Justice' to reclaim a part of history that neglected the Chinese railroad workers ... ”
Photographic justice uplifts Chinese railroad workers

5/18/2024 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without Chinese workers, "it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprise, within the time required by the Acts of Congress."
Former California Governor Leland Stanford, Central Pacific Railroad President

6/07/2024 9:12 PM  

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