Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who won the race?

From: "Laura Canzone" lcanzone@ssj.org

My 2nd grade class just read a story about the Great Pacific Railroad, in it they said there was a race between the Chinese and Irish worker to see who could finish first. My class wants to know who won the race?


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The answer that the author likely has in mind is the Chinese, but the history appears to have been oversimplified to the point of meaninglessness. Actually the race to lay the most track in a day was not between Chinese and Irish, but between the Central Pacific Railroad (which had 90% of the workers being Chinese) and the Union Pacific which had mostly Irish workers and Civil War veterans. The winning Central Pacific laid more than ten miles of track in one day, a world's record that has never been beaten. However, the Union Pacific had no chance to attempt to beat that record the next day, as after the race, the end of track was less than ten miles from where the CPRR and UPRR rails would meet at Promontory.

Although the CPRR workers winning the race were mostly Chinese, the men of the Central Pacific who actually laid the more than ten miles of iron rails on April 28, 1869 were eight Irishmen, Michael Shay, Patrick Joyce, Thomas Dailey, Michael Kennedy, Frederick McNamara, Edward Killeen, Michael Sullivan, and George Wyatt. All should be proud of their historic achievement accomplished by Chinese and Irish working together.

Ten Mile Day article
Ten Mile Day FAQ

If instead, you are asking who won the race to build the transcontinental railroad, see this FAQ.

Our resources for teachers and classroom game may also be of interest.

5/15/2007 4:48 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see the related discussion.

5/15/2007 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chinese and Irish both reached Promontory on May 10, 1869. So the race ended in a tie.

5/17/2007 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A San Francisco telegram of the 29th ult. says that dispatches from the end of track of the Central Pacific Railroad state that over ten miles of track were laid on the 28th. The track layers were compelled to desist on account of the unfinished grading. The iron was laid at the rate of a mile an hour. Work on the Union Pacific Road progresses slowly. The rails are down to within eight miles of the summit of Promontory Point. Governor Stanford, on the 28th, visited the end of the Eastern Road for the purpose of inducing the Union Pacific Company to abandon their rock cutting and take the Central Road, but found no one with authority to make the change. On the morning of the 29th only nine and a half miles remained to complete the road from ocean to ocean, three and a half miles of which is the Central Pacific line."

Moore's Rural New Yorker, Rochester, New York, Saturday, May 8, 1869.

5/12/2009 12:18 PM  

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