Work of Giants
An American dry-goods merchant named Asa Whitney got back from China in 1844 burning with an idea, one that would unite the country and revolutionize commerce forever. It was a transcontinental railroad that would connect the Atlantic to the Pacific, shortening the distance between them. Imagine traveling to China from New York in thirty days through rail en route to the Pacific coast and then sea vessel, instead of an around-the-world sea trip requiring up to 300 days. The European immigrants who have begun to clog eastern American cities can spill over to the greener pastures of the Western states. Acres of territory taken from the Native Americans would now be theirs for the taking.
Fast-forward twenty years later in 1863: Leland Stanford, one of the “Big Four” broke ground in Sacramento, signifying the beginning of the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. However, work did not start until nine months later. Before the Chinese were brought in, labor turnover was extremely high: they didn’t know if the project would be able to continue. At the urging of Charles Crocker, J.H. Strobridge eventually hired over 12,000 Chinese laborers to work on the Central Pacific.
This is the CHSA Museum’s page memorializing the efforts of the 12,000 Chinese laborers who worked on the Central Pacific portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The involvement of Chinese workers in the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad is common knowledge. We hope to present information that enhances the basic facts–that the Chinese railroad workers were the backbone of the enormous construction project to carve a road through granite of the Sierra Nevada, ever diligent and efficient, adapting to new construction techniques, and enduring harsh working and living conditions, which all resulted in the completion of the railroad ahead of schedule. The Transcontinental Railroad is an American legacy, a triumph of the human spirit and a cornerstone of the history of Chinese in America.
Please view our Work of Giants: Chinese Railroad Worker Project page to find out more about our initiative to deepen the narrative and our understanding of the contributions of the Chinese railroad workers.
二十年之後的1863年，鐵路”四巨頭”之一的利蘭•斯坦福在薩克拉門托破土動工，標誌著中太平洋鐵路建設的開始。然而，真正的修建工作直到九個月之後才正式啟動。華工華工到來之前，勞動力的流動性非常強：工人們不知道這項計劃能否繼續下去。在查爾斯•克羅克的催促下, J.H. 斯特羅布裡奇最終聘用了12,000名華工開始修建中太平洋鐵路。