This book tells the story from beginning to end, as well as describing what this experience means for us today. But a handful did, particularly the managers or supervisors or labor contractors who recruited the workers on to the rail line. Read more... Come to Ogden. You’re the co-director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America project at Stanford. In 1850, California became part of the Union, but California, as rich and as important as it was, was still far removed from the East Coast and even from the Midwest. American boosters and entrepreneurs envisioned a rail line as early as the 1840s. The driving of this final golden spike represented a new era in connecting people, moving goods, and igniting America’s … They had to work year-round, even through the terrible Sierra winters. Tourists could pose with full-size plywood replicas of the two famous Golden Spike locomotives. There were Chinese railroad workers as far away as Tennessee or Alabama or New York, even out to Long Island, in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. That’s one new, major issue: This was an immense contribution that Chinese railroad workers made, but they have not been honored or acknowledged for that effort. This resulted in the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which tried to keep Chinese people out of the United States altogether. It’s been my pleasure to let people know about this. The original legislation granted each railroad 6,400 acres and up to $48,000 in government bonds for each mile completed. How did the construction of the railroads change China? Several U.S. … Between 1863 and 1869, two companies built a rail line across the United States. We learned what they ate—largely Chinese food. It’s a passion as well as an intellectual endeavor. The Chinese began working in 1864 and worked all the way through, to 1869, on the western portion of the railroad, which ended in Utah. Many of the Chinese communities that sprung up in the 1870s and 1880s and continued on were the result of the railroad workers dispersing across the country and people establishing themselves, and a small number starting families and having native-born Chinese-Americans in the United States. Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Immigration in Perspective: The Chinese Exclusion Act, The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad, Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, Politics of Transparency and Secrecy: Revisiting the French Revolution, Writing History with Oceans: Approaching the Pacific through Water, Reconstructing Approaches to America’s Indian Problem. The 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration taking place now in Ogden and at Golden Spike National Historical Park! Union Pacific railroad presents The 150th Anniversary of Driving the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. A railroad linking America's east and west coasts had been a dream almost since the steam locomotive made its first appearance in the early 1830s. It was engraved on all four sides, including the names of the railroad officers and directors along with start and end dates of construction. They overcame great physical, climatic, and working conditions. Up to twelve hundred, or more, Chinese died in the construction of the railroad. Golden Spike National Historical Park. We learned about they did in their leisure time: They read, played games, wrote letters back home to their relatives and sent money back. 150 years after the completion of … When we celebrate the 150th anniversary, what are we celebrating? Brigham Young famously supported the … The need for such a link was dramatized by the discovery of gold in California in 1848 that brought thousands to the West Coast. But there are so many things, still, today, despite the efforts of many scholars and writers to understand the past—there are so many things that we don’t know. Shop The Bradford Exchange Online for Golden Spike Cuckoo Clock. Those gaps challenge us to do a better job to understand the past in a richer way. He died in 1874, five years after the golden spike was laid in Utah. Please check www.nps.gov/gosp for updates. "We want to hear the iron horse puffing through this valley." What were the project’s most important findings, and what findings were you surprised by? In this interview, he reflects on the history of the first transcontinental railroad and discusses how he and colleagues have worked to bring the histories of Chinese railroad workers to light. One is The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad, a volume of collected essays by over twenty authors about various aspects of the railroad’s history, published by Stanford University Press. One of the greatest technological achievements of the 19th century, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States. It just seemed to resonate, to be an important symbol of Americanization. ), Working replicas of the 1860's steam locomotives 'Jupiter' and '119' are in operation from May-September. You mentioned connections back home. There was already an extensive rail system, particularly in the North, before the Civil War, but this rail line would give the North even greater advantages. And we wanted to correct that. Many of the Chinese railroad workers remained single their entire lives because they worked hard but didn’t have much money or the ability to start families. Worth - Liberia 20 dollars 2000, History of America - Transcontinental Railroad "Golden Spike" in the coin catalog at uCoin.net - International Catalog of World Coins. Driving the Golden Spike. San Francisco contractor David Hewes, friend of Central Pacific President Leland Stanford, was disappointed to discover no one had prepared a commerative item for the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which … There is lots of information at our project website: chineserailroadworkers.stanford.edu. After they had completed the work, they had shown themselves to be extraordinary workers and were celebrated by many people. We formed the project to concentrate our resources and get researchers out there to see if we could find documentation on the railroad workers. Did these Chinese railroad workers build communities in the United States? Small crowds. And we learned that, after the railroad was completed, many of them continued to be railroad workers and went eastward to work on railroad lines throughout the entire country. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the stalemate was broken, and Abraham Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 to authorize federal support for the building of the line. They started families and our project identified a good number of these families—maybe fifteen—who were descendants of railroad workers. The golden spike ceremony originated in 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed in Utah, and the golden spike was the last one driven to … Keep up with history and join our newsletter. 1 South Main St. One of the golden spikes, considered the official golden spike, was a gift to Leland Stanford of CP. Few people bothered to drive the dirt road out to the Spike site. Golden Spike event celebrates the Transcontinental Railroad’s 150th anniversary Doug Foxley, left, and Spencer Stokes re-create a historic photo at the Golden Spike … He studies historical connections between technology, mobility, the environment, and social change, primarily in the North American West and Pacific World during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the United States, there was this opportunity: They were paid in gold and sent the money back to China to their home villages and families, and this sustained the population in that portion of the country. All rights reserved. The authorization supported two companies: the Union Pacific, which built from Omaha, Nebraska, westward, and the Central Pacific, which built from Sacramento, California, eastward. The money these workers earned in the United States was considerably more than what they could earn in China. With the 150th anniversary coming up, many are very pleased that the story of Chinese railroad workers will finally make it into the public’s consciousness, through public events and books and other work that the project has completed. How did the project come about, and what were its initial goals? The Golden Spike of the first transcontinental railroad was but one of millions in the nearly 2,000-mile route between Sacramento, Calif., and Omaha, Neb. I learned that 90% of the construction workforce on the Central Pacific, on the western portion of the line, was Chinese. Then they carved out fifteen tunnels through granite, which required hand-tools, chisels, and blasting powder, to blast out the solid rock from these gargantuan mountains. The railroad would solve that problem. Help us continue to bring you the best of the archives... without the dust! The history of Chinese railroad workers, what they did on the railroad line, and how they lived the experience has been elusive, if not absent entirely, in the history of the railroad. What could be more American than working on the railroad? Our website is reliable, easy to use, and can lead you to other resources. So the rail line had both domestic importance as well as perceived international trade advantages. (The West Auto Tour is a 14-mile round trip, the East Auto Tour is about a 2 mile loop. The crowd cheers as Governor Leland Stanford drives the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah to complete the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of America’s first transcontinental railroad. Golden Spike National Historic Park is located 32 miles northwest of Brigham City on State Routes 13 and 83. How has the legacy of the transcontinental railroads changed over time? Visit website, This historic park witnessed one of the most important accomplishments of the 19th century. And so, The Great Race began. And I should mention the two books the project produced. The Sierras is the toughest mountain range in the continental United States. Recently re-designated as a historical park, visitors to the Golden Spike National Historical Park can see the location of the Last Spike Site, 1869 railroad construction features, walk or drive on the original railroad grade, and get an up close view of Victorian era replica locomotives. What are some resources for people who want to know more about Chinese railroad workers in North America? Those who were able to save some money and establish themselves—maybe by starting a store after working on the railroad—were able to marry, either other people in America or Chinese women who came over from China. How do these descendants tend to view the railroad today? In addition to providing lifelong history lovers, teachers, and students free access to premier digital research, the editors and writers of U.S. History Scene are available for freelance or consulting work. Presented that day were two golden spikes, a silver spike, and a spike made of both gold and silver. Transcontinental Railroad, 1869. This negative sentiment was rooted in racial prejudice, as well as a sense of competition with them as workers, and a very violent and pervasive anti-Chinese movement developed across the country by the late 1870s and early 1880s, seeking to drive the Chinese out of the country entirely. You can find essays about the railroad workers, and information about other resources that are available, including school curricula: We worked with other Stanford folks to complete a K-12 curriculum unit that introduces the subject to students. During that Ceremony, four special spikes were presented. The descendants, to continue your question earlier, many are proud—but many are also sad or have been angry because the story of Chinese railroad workers had not been recovered or known before. Chinese laborers made up a majority of the Central Pacific workforce that built out the transcontinental railroad east from California. Nickel Plate 759 steams through Brewster, Ohio in May of 1969. They worked through horrendous snowstorms to build through California to Donner Summit and to get the line through these mountain passes. There was not an extensive cash economy there. Entrepreneurs and employers around the country sought to employ Chinese to work on rail lines in other parts of the country and on other infrastructure projects. Spikes date back to the first transcontinental railroad, and can lead you to other.. May 10, 1869, the workers on to the transcontinental railroads over... 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