Protectionism. The transcontinental railroad has been viewed in a similarly nationalistic way ever since. They toiled through back-breaking labor during both frigid winters and blazing summers. Chinese immigrants did most of … Most came from southern China and hoped to escape the poverty and social unrest that characterized their homeland. The Transcontinental Railroad changed the course of American history when it was completed in 1869. Chinese workers made up most of the workforce between roughly 700 miles of train tracks between Sacramento, California, and Promontory, Utah.  “Cultural Impact of Building the Transcontinental Railroad.”  Fuchs. âThe artifacts on view are meant to help visitors understand how forgotten workers had to endure hazardous, unfair conditions, in addition to backbreaking labor,â said Leibhold. Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Students will read and answer questions about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese and Irish immigrant labor, and the Land of Opportunity vs. 150 years after the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, a local Chicago Museum highlights Chinese workers' contributions. There are photos, as well, of the Native Americans, many of whom protested against the building of the railway in 1869, which displaced the Lakota, Shoshone, Cheyenne and other communities. Chinese laborers made up a majority of the Central Pacific workforce that built out the transcontinental railroad east from California. "The Chinese in America: Transcontinental Railroad," by Iris Chang, 2003. A city within a city: Truckee’s Chinatown. UTAH EDUCATION NETWORK - Lesson plans for the Transcontinental Railroad. At first railroad companies were reluctant to hire Chinese workers, but the immigrants soon proved to be vital. Title: Chinese Timetable. Working conditions improved following the strike. âChinese workers were not citizens, werenât allowed to become citizens. “But Crocker’s plan hit opposition amid anti-Chinese sentiment, stemming from the California Gold Rush, that gripped the state,” Obenzinger told NBC, noting that construction superintendent James Strobridge didn’t think the immigrants were strong enough to do the job. The railroad company provided room and board to white workers, but Chinese workers had to find their own meals, which were often brought to them from local merchants. Chinese Railroad Workers Project Introduction Video; 150 Years Ago, Chinese Railroad Workers Staged the Era’s Largest Labor Strike by Chris Fuchs "The Chinese in Winnemucca, Nevada." UNION PACIFIC - History and photos of the Union Pacific. According to the Project, Chinese workers hired in 1864 were paid $26 a month, working six days a week. A Murder Changed That, 10 Ways the Transcontinental Railroad Changed America. âAll workers on the railroad were âotherâ,â said Liebhold. Some say without the help of Chinese, the Transcontinental Railroad would not exist. And 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. Snowsheds: Protection for not just trains over Donner. Many of the actual workers were left out. On May 10, 1869, during an elaborate ceremony at Promontory Summit in Utah, the “Golden Spike” was driven in and the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad was completed. But this exhibition takes a different tack, tracing the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in 1869. âHistorians have always known and written about the Chinese workers, but itâs forgotten by society,â said Peter Liebhold, who co-curated the exhibit with Sam Vong. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! The Railroad made it possible to cross the country in a matter of days instead of months, paved the way for new settlers to come out west, and helped speed America's entry onto the world stage as a modern nation that spanned a full continent. 150 years of railroad snow removal in the Sierra. Chinese camp and construction train in Nevada when building of the first transcontinental railroad was being speeded across the state by the Central Pacific. “They scared the pants off the company leaders,” he says. Like thousands of native-born Americans and immigrants from other parts of the world, they hoped to strike it rich during the Gold Rush. After completion of the railroad, Chinese exclusion formalized racial violence and labor control on a continental scale, evacuating models of relationship governing the movement of people across Indigenous lands and waters. Hilton Obenzinger, associate director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University, says that Central Pacific Railroad director Charles Crocker recommended hiring Chinese workers after a job ad resulted in only a few hundred responses from white laborers. They eventually held an eight-day strike in June of 1867. “Crocker’s colleagues objected at first because of prejudice but then relented as they had few other options. Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Chinese Americans Were Once Forbidden to Testify in Court. “Hong Kong and China were as close in travel time as the eastern U.S.,” Chang says. The Transcontinental Railroad was a dream of a country set on the concept of Manifest Destiny. Nonetheless, Central Pacific Railroad was desperate, says Gordon Chang, Stanford professor of American history and author of the book, Ghosts of Gold Mountain. The Central Pacific began in Sacramento, California working toward the East. “But the demand for labor increased, and white workers were reluctant to do such backbreaking, hazardous work.”, Leland Stanford, president of Central Pacific, former California governor and founder of Stanford University, told Congress in 1865, that the majority of the railroad labor force were Chinese.
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