Monday, January 14, 2013

"Driving the workers to the point of exhaustion"

An article, Charles Crocker managed the building of the Central Pacific Railroad, in the Examiner states:

"Progress under Crocker’s considerable energy set numerous records and the project was completed seven years ahead of schedule; however, it was accomplished by driving the workers to the point of exhaustion."

Is there any factual basis for the claim about "driving the workers to the point of exhaustion"?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That misleading charge seems like just more anti-business propaganda.

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.

1/14/2013 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The transcontinental railroad was the greatest engineering project of the 19th century and was accomplished entirely with manual labor. As such, the work was certainly hard, but normal for the time. Consequently it is deceptive to write from the point of view of today's experience as if that applies to a time when modern technology and conveniences were not yet invented.

1/14/2013 7:13 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

If one takes the work at Summit Tunnel (Tunnel 6) as an example, that wonder had four faces being worked at the same time: East, West, and from the inside, working out, West and East. Each face was worked from the top down, each face was worked by a crew of Chinese that numbered between 20 and 25 men. That crew of Chinese was supervised by one Anglo. The Chinese workers worked EIGHT HOUR DAYS, the Anglo supervisor worked a 12 hour day. So, do the multiplication, take the MAXIMUM number of Chinese working at any one time (4 faces x 25 men) equals 100 men, working 8 hour shifts, 3 x 100 = 300 men, of which 200 were either sleeping or relaxing, and 100 working.

Federal rail inspectors regularly inspected the work, and were quick to report that the Chinese had built for themselves stone/timber buildings to keep the elements away. In addition, these inspectors noted stables, barns, and other buildings, which when viewed together, "compromised quite a village" at the Summit.

Prior to my retirement, I too worked an 8 hour day, and when I went home at night, I was tired. BUT NOT OVERWORKED.

Working on the railroad would be considerably easier, and safer, than building flumes to divert the American River for 15 miles, and when that job was finished, going to dig in the rocks and residual mud looking for gold. And, when the rains came in November, watching the flumes wash out would cast a pall over the forthcoming winter.

G J Chris Graves
NewCastle, Cal. MP32

1/14/2013 1:03 PM  

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