Thursday, January 21, 2010

A. J. Russell Stereoview #539. "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR."

From: "Norton Wheeler" Wheeler-N@MSSU.EDU

I am a little confused by all the explanations. ... the photo of the completion of the Intercontinental [sic] Railroad that, according to your website's caption, depicts at least one Chinese worker. ... can you tell me which individual is definitely Chinese? Is this a version of the photo with an enlargement of the relevant section? Is your identification made on the basis of clothing, facial features, or what? Given the quality of the photo, it is difficult for me to make this identification, based on viewing the image on my computer screen.

My purpose is to make the students in my US History survey course aware of the problems that Chinese immigrants faced in the Western United States in the late 19th century, even at the level of public representation. ...

Norton Wheeler, Ph.D.
Social Science Deparatment
Missouri Southern State University

A. J. Russell Stereoview #539.



Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The claim that the A. J. Russell Stereoview #539. depicts "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR," is based on the primary source manuscript verbatim quotation of the photographer's caption for his photograph as shown in on the back of the photograph which is displayed next to the image.

1/21/2010 10:03 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The image is shown in its entirety as originally published in the 19th century.

1/21/2010 10:10 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

For details about the events depicted in the image, see Driving the Last Spike At Promontory, 1869 by J. N. Bowman.

1/21/2010 10:33 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Attached is a copy of the photo with the three Chinese that are clearly visible (out of the total Chinese crew of eight) identified. As noted below, photographer A. J. Russell's identification of the photo as showing Chinese is the most substantial evidence. Within the photo, the distinctive jackets worn by the Chinese help identify the individuals, as well as the general cut of their clothes over all. After looking at a large number of photos of Chinese from the period, particularly in numerous A. A. Hart photos of the Central Pacific RR construction, one grows familiar with how they appear in the photos.

After the ceremony was over, the 8-man Chinese crew was honored as the representatives of all the Chinese who had works on the Central Pacific at a luncheon given by CP Construction Boss James Strobridge, as recounted in the following (see attached):

Strobridge Honors Chinese - San Francisco News Letter May 15, 1869, pg 4

Also, from the Sacramento Daily Bee, May 12, 1869, quoting from the [San Francisco] Alta's dispatch of the proceedings at the front when the last spike was driven: "J.H. Strobridge, Superintendent of Construction of the Central Pacific entertained the Press and the officers of the 21st Regiment, and others most sumptuously. When the other guests arose from the table Mr. Strobridge introduced his Chinese foreman and leader who had been with him so long, and took the head of the table. This manly and honorable proceeding was hailed with three rousing cheers by the Caucasian guests, military and civilians, who crowded around Strobridge to congratulate and assure him of sympathy."

Kyle Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

1/21/2010 6:44 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

I wish to clarify that the comments posted in the caption were details that I found interesting in the view and were left in an unedited format. To further expand on the context of this particular image and its significance, one must look at all the other photographs that exist of this event to see that no Chinese workers appear anywhere, not even in the background. I'm not aware of this stereoview appearing in any book, public collection, or database and have seen only one other copy besides the one in my collection.

Phil Anderson
Los Angeles, CA

6/03/2011 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thanks to Phil Anderson for his generosity in allowing this rare and important image to be shown.

6/03/2011 12:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, I have recently completed my documentary film, Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain, and I talk about the building of the CPRR. Just google Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain, Bill George! Thanks

5/03/2015 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain video.

5/04/2015 6:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have a lamp said to be made by the crocker gang 1864
Can anyone verify

2/12/2019 8:23 AM  

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