Many of the descendants we interviewed were very eager to come forward. The spike is now on display at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, while a second "Last" Golden Spike is also on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. They were really responsible for building the western portion of the transcontinental railroad, and without them, the railroad might not have been completed, and certainly would not have been completed in the time that it was. Previous historians had written about parts of the railroad experience of Chinese workers, but I was really surprised and excited to learn about so many new aspects of this five-year experience. 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. Visitors can also drive two self-guided auto tours at the site. The line was envisioned as an important, strategic advantage for the northern states. The railroads changed the United States and North America. May 10, 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the laying of the âGolden Spikeâ and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory, Utah. The money these workers earned in the United States was considerably more than what they could earn in China. The labor of Chinese workers was instrumental to the transcontinental railroad’s construction. 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. On May 10, 1869, the golden spike was hammered in at Promontory, Utah. And they became the foundation of what we would call today the Chinese-American community. Shop The Bradford Exchange Online for Golden Spike Cuckoo Clock. This interview has been condensed and edited. Help us continue to bring you the best of the archives... without the dust! It’s been my pleasure to let people know about this. The slightly undersized 5 1/2" x 1/2" golden spike, now located in the Stanford Family Collection of the Stanford University Museum, was manufactured for the joining of the rails ceremony by the San Francisco William T. Garratt Foundry and then engraved by San Francisco jewelers, Schultz, Fischer and Mahling (for which they charged $15.25). 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. Tourists could pose with full-size plywood replicas of the two famous Golden Spike locomotives. Read more... Come to Ogden. I hope that people who are interested will go find those books and learn much more than what we could cover here in this interview—there’s a lot of information that we didn’t cover at all. Utah Travel It was also understood, particularly by the boosters who pressed for this line early on, that it would open enormous political and economic potential by linking the East and the West, and by bringing the Far East—Asia—closer to the United States, via shipping lines out of San Francisco. I’ve been long interested in Chinese railroad workers and trans-Pacific interaction. It was engraved on all four sides, including the names of the railroad officers and directors along with start and end dates of construction. So they’re very happy, on the one hand, to have the story come forward, but still have deep feelings about why it’s taken so long for this part of American history to be known. What are some resources for people who want to know more about Chinese railroad workers in North America? One of the golden spikes, considered the official golden spike, was a gift to Leland Stanford of CP. The crowd cheers as Governor Leland Stanford drives the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah to complete the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. On May 10, 1869, work crews from the two companies met in the Utah desert at Promontory Summit to link their rails and hammer home the final spikes. The fact that their ancestors were railroad workers is something the descendants are proud of and would like to publicize. Brigham Young famously supported the â¦ After they had completed the work, they had shown themselves to be extraordinary workers and were celebrated by many people. Visit website, This historic park witnessed one of the most important accomplishments of the 19th century. Visitors to the 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. Chinese laborers made up a majority of the Central Pacific workforce that built out the transcontinental railroad east from California. 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. Much of what we know—or believe we know—about History with a capital H, and American history more generally, are things that we can read in our history books. What could be more American than working on the railroad? The railroad would solve that problem. The Sierras is the toughest mountain range in the continental United States. They became known as the go-to railroad workers, since they had experience and were good workers. And so, The Great Race began. I learned that 90% of the construction workforce on the Central Pacific, on the western portion of the line, was Chinese. During that Ceremony, four special spikes were presented. We learned about they did in their leisure time: They read, played games, wrote letters back home to their relatives and sent money back. Sean Fraga holds a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. 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. Up to twelve hundred, or more, Chinese died in the construction of the railroad. On May 10, 1869, officials of the Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad met here to drive four symbolic spikes (two gold), celebrating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. In 1969, at the âGolden Spikeâ centennial celebration of the First Transcontinental Railroadâs completion, the Chinese community nationwide had â¦ You’re the co-director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America project at Stanford. The need for such a link was dramatized by the discovery of gold in California in 1848 that brought thousands to the West Coast. 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. Spikes date back to the first railroads in the 1830s and are still the fastener of choice for most North American railroads. Please check www.nps.gov/gosp for updates. (Schedule subject to change. Inspired designs on t-shirts, posters, stickers, home decor, and more by independent artists and designers from around the world. The second book is Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, which I authored, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Schedule subject to change. 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. What didn’t you expect to learn? The Last Spike Ceremony is reenacted every year on the May 10th anniversary, as well as every Saturday and Holiday from May 10th to September, and at the annual Railroader's Festival held the second Saturday â¦ What happened to these workers after the railroad was completed? Small crowds. Union Pacific, starting from Council Bluffs, Iowa, built west, laying more than a thousand miles of rail; Central Pacific, starting from Sacramento, California, built east, laying nearly seven hundred miles of track. 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. Major companies in Wayne County included the Pennsylvania Railroad, Erie Railroad, and B&O Railroad. Even today, some of these villages from which they came are still known as railroad villages. 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 â¦ There is lots of information at our project website: chineserailroadworkers.stanford.edu. © 2020 U.S. History Scene, all rights reserved. To recover is to find information that speaks to those gaps and silences in history. Golden Spike 150 ceremony: How Utah celebrated the transcontinental railroad anniversary By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - May 10, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. | Posted - â¦ They were really responsible for building the western portion of the transcontinental railroad, and without them, the railroad might not have been completed, and certainly would not have been completed in the time that it was. 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. American boosters and entrepreneurs envisioned a rail line as early as the 1840s. 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. On May 10, 1869, the last spike of the Transcontinental Railroad was ceremonially driven into a polished laurel railroad tie at Promontory Summit, Utah, to commemorate the joining of the rail lines built by the Central Pacific railroad from the west, and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east. 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. All orders are custom made and most ship worldwide within 24 hours. 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. 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. 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. 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. Local volunteers reenact driving the golden spike marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah. Transcontinental Railroad, 1869. 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. On that website, you’ll find videos about the history and about our project. And we wanted to correct that. "We want to hear the iron horse puffing through this valley." Rangers offer talks daily from May 31 to September 1. Most of them had been farmers in the southern part of China, along the Pearl River Delta. The Last Spike Ceremony is reenacted every year on the May 10th anniversary, as well as every Saturday and Holiday from May 10th to September, and at the annual Railroader's Festival held the second Saturday in August and during the Winter Steam Festival on the last weekend in December. At any given time, between ten thousand and twelve thousand Chinese workers were employed on the project, largely by Central Pacific. They pressed for its construction over the years, but the sectional conflict—between North and South, the slave states and the northern states—blocked agreement about where the route should go. Summer 2019: Golden Spike Redux The role that Chinese immigrants played in building the Transcontinental Railroad has long been buried. 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. Several U.S. â¦ Box Elder County is home to Golden Spike...and a whole lot more. The authorization supported two companies: the Union Pacific, which built from Omaha, Nebraska, westward, and the Central Pacific, which built from Sacramento, California, eastward.
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