The completion of the railroad is considered a pivotal moment in U.S. history that ushered in a new era of travel, shipping and trade and symbolically united a nation that was divided by the recent Civil War. They contended with racism, pay disparity and dangerous tasks in grueling terrain. Kwan, who is president of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, and his group are participating as part of a drive to be more involved in railroad celebrations and long-term projects. “Even after all this work was put in to make the railroad, there continued to be real intense racism against the Chinese.”. Some photographs taken during the railroad's construction feature Chinese laborers. During a brief presentation, Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz hailed the laborers who put in 12-hour days in brutal conditions to build the railroad by hand, saying their work “changed America forever.”. More photos can be found on Stanford University's Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project's website. The descendants group is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. “We haven’t really pushed the envelope and insisted that these contributions be recognized until fairly recently,” Kwan said. As a junior high school student, he pored over the photo with a magnifying glass. Veronica Peterson is in the doctoral program in archaeology at Harvard University. Like previous years, they are sponsoring this week’s Golden Spike Conference, which includes theatrical productions and panels, including one with Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. "The Chinese railroad workers were widely discriminated against. "It's a black-and-white, very historic-looking photo," says Connie Young Yu, the great-granddaughter of a Chinese laborer on the railroad. The original photo commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 did not include Chinese laborers. The 20,000 Chinese immigrants who worked on the Central Pacific portion, from California to Utah, between 1864 and 1869 accounted for about 90% of that railroad’s workforce, said Stanford University professor Gordon Chang. “I think it indicates there’s a tremendous interest and curiosity and hunger for this,” Chang said. “It feels kind of weird to know that this school stands because of the labor of my great-grandfather and many others like him put in,” Solorio said. Margaret Yee and Karen Kwan agreed to answer a few questions from AsAmNews. In his book, “Ghosts of Gold Mountain,” he points to newspaper articles that mention the shipping of remains or “bone boxes” to China and Chinese groups in America keeping their own census records. Co-edited by Sue Lee and Connie Young Yu, full-length book features first-hand narratives by descendants of Chinese workers who built US Transcontinental Railroad. Archaeologists help modern descendants of Chinese railroad laborers commemorate their ancestors. Both federal employees, Hsiao and Yu are also descendants of transcontinental railroad workers. “They say the Chinese built the railroad. The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association (CRWDA) is a national, membership based, charitable organization which seeks to preserve, promote and protect the contributions made by Chinese railroad workers to the United States. Like previous years, they are sponsoring this week’s Golden Spike Conference, which includes theatrical productions and panels, including one with Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. Importantly, it puts the Chinese railroad workers “on the map” of American history, giving humanity to what has been perceived as “nameless thousands of Chinese laborers.” The descendants give evidence of their ancestors’ role on the Central Pacific Railroad, how they survived … "They're standing in the same spot where, 145 years ago, there were no Chinese," he says. Lu told the audience, which included railroad-worker descendants from around the country, that they were beginning to "right an old wrong. How are you related to a descendant of a transcontinental railroad worker and … “You’re not talking about 12 hours sitting at a desk or sitting on a bench. Chinese laborers at work on construction for the railroad … At an elevation as high as 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) on the Sierra Nevada range, they were ordered to blast through solid granite using nitroglycerine. So, in 2002, Lee gathered a group of Chinese-Americans at that same location in northern Utah to re-create the historic shot, and he did it again on Saturday with some descendants of those Chinese laborers. Thousands of Chinese workers helped build it, but their faces were left out of … Chinese laborers were often the most exploited. Standing in front of the Hall of Honor before the new plaque's unveiling, Hsiao, a sixth-generation Chinese-American, said the recognition is long overdue. The iconic image shows a crowd of men swarmed around two locomotives. hide caption. Descendants Of Chinese Laborers Reclaim Railroad's History . hide caption. Michael Solorio feels fortunate that his family was able to determine that his maternal great-great-great-grandfather, Lim Lip Hong… The descendants group also is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. "Maybe implicitly [it's] a little bit of a recognition of the injustice," she said. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted the Chinese railroad workers into their Hall of Honor. Several thousand people attended the anniversary celebration, which featured a pair of restored 1940s-era steam engines. Yee, helped tap a ceremonial spike alongside Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and a descendant of Union Pacific’s chief engineer on the project at an event in Ogden. Ms. Yu’s great-grandfather helped build the railroad, and her mother was the only descendant of the Chinese workers at the 100th celebration of the golden spike ceremony in 1969. While some reports back then suggest about 150 died, Chang believes deaths numbered in the hundreds. A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at … No longer nameless, faceless workers lost to history, their stories will shatter misconceptions about the Chinese who helped build America. 150 th Anniversary of Transcontinental Railroad: May 10, 2019. The Salt Lake City native is not a descendant, but it always bothered him that Chinese laborers were “a really small footnote” in history classes. Kwan and other Chinese Americans are pushing for these workers — some of whom lost their lives building the Western portion of the railroad — to get more than a token mention in history books. $25.99. Courtesy of Corky Lee Both federal employees, Hsiao and Yu are also descendants of transcontinental railroad workers. America's first transcontinental railroad was completed with a golden spike 145 years ago. “That’s the dream: Have people stop asking us where we’re from.”, Tang reported from Phoenix. No longer nameless, faceless workers lost to history, their stories will shatter misconceptions about the Chinese who helped build America. They made up the overwhelming majority of its workforce. “Their bodies weren’t recovered till next spring. Courtesy of National Archives By Hansi Lo Wang • May 10, 2014 . The Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association is a national, membership based, charitable organization which seeks to preserve, promote and protect the contributions made by Chinese railroad workers to the United States. Add to cart. The anti-Chinese ... information on nineteenth-century railroad workers from descendants three, four, or . Chang has gone further in ensuring Chinese laborers and their sacrifices are embedded in the historical narrative as director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project. I n 1864, 15-year-old Hung Lai Wah and his older brother Hung Jick Wah laid an offering at the Hung family temple in Dailong Village, Guangdong, China. You’re talking about 12 hours of lifting and hammering and blowing things up,” said Kwan, a judge in Salt Lake City. America's first transcontinental railroad was completed with a golden spike 145 years ago. Learn about the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific Railroad. the West, Chinese railroad workers are depicted as masses of worker bees, swarming over mountains and plains, nameless, faceless, devoid of humanity. Ze Min Xiao, a board member of the Utah chapter of OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, helped to organize the event. East finally met West 145 years ago on America's first transcontinental railroad. The project has amassed a treasure trove of oral histories, letters, periodicals and other materials since 2012. A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at Promontory Summit, Utah. “Travel that took six months to go from New York to San Francisco at the risk of your life literally turned into a 10-day excursion in relative comfort,” he said. Chang said he was surprised when hundreds of people attended a project showcase at Stanford. "Being a first-generation immigrant and having a Chinese accent, you often hear, 'You're taking advantage of the infrastructure that's built by others who came before you' – assuming, of course, that the 'others' are Caucasian and not really our ancestors," Xiao says. Other groups including the Irish, members of The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former slaves navigating Reconstruction also helped work on the entire railroad. Among those who will be in Utah to recreate the photograph will be two descendants of the Chinese railroad workers. For descendants of Chinese railroad workers and nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants, the work that Chinese Railroad Workers Project co-directors Shelley Fisher Fishkin and Gordon Chang … Standing in front of the Hall of Honor before the new plaque's unveiling, Hsiao, a … (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. “I’m just a parent who wants to make sure my children and grandchildren will eventually know the story of the Chinese railroad worker.”. The international team of academics working on the project will assemble a registry of descendants of Chinese railroad workers in the United States and … On Thursday, group member Margaret Yee helped tap a ceremonial spike alongside Utah Gov. The bubbly marked the long-awaited completion of the Gateway to the American West, nearly 2,000 miles of iron rail that crossed the Rockies and Sierra Nevada. Few UCRFA officers, few Chinese railroad worker descendants and Professor Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University joined together received the third medallion on behalf of Central Pacific labors. Ms. Yu’s great-grandfather helped build the railroad, and her mother was the only descendant of the Chinese workers at the 100th celebration of the golden spike ceremony in … He is in talks with Utah education officials about making the lessons a permanent part of history classes. New York Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat, introduced a resolution in March that would honor them and renewed a call for an honorary postage stamp. Over the years, one photograph in particular from May 10, 1869, has taken root in U.S. history. The railroad built America,” Yee said. “I had to do a lot of research to make sure I got the story right,” he said. Voices From The Railroad: Stories By Descendants Of Chinese Railroad Workers. The symbolic hammering of a golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, completed the connection between the country's two coasts and shortened a cross-country trip of more than six months down to a week. “Voices from the Railroad,” is a collection of true stories by nine descendants of Chinese railroad workers. The law, which lasted for more than a half-century, was part of a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment that the ancestors of Lisa Hsiao and Susan Yu experienced firsthand. "In the middle are the two engineers shaking hands," Yu says. Descendants of Chinese laborers are paying homage to their ancestors on the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad Yu said she takes comfort in seeing her great-grandfather's efforts remembered in the halls of the U.S. government. Kwan, of the descendants group, said education can help dispel the tendency for people to see Asian Americans as not fitting the image of what is “American.”, “We’ve been here for more than 150 years and we have contributed every step of the way,” Kwan said. Max Chang, a board member of the Golden Spike foundation that’s been helping plan anniversary events, has been giving volunteer presentations on Chinese workers at elementary and middle schools throughout Utah. This 100-page book features first-hand narratives by railroad worker descendants Gene O. Chan, Montgomery Hom, Carolyn Kuhn, Paulette Liang, Russell N. Low, Sandra K. Lee, Andrea Yee, Vicki Tong Young, and Connie Young Yu . OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Michael Kwan can’t help but think about what life was like on a daily basis for his great-great-grandfather in the 1860s, working 12-hour days in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range on the Transcontinental Railroad that would reshape the American landscape. Courtesy of Alfred A. Hart Photograph Collection, Stanford University Some suffered brutal deaths in explosions. Related Program: Avalanches also took lives. Sometimes they would be uncovered as the snow melted with their work tools still in their hands,” Chang said. The descendants group also is raising money for a statue of a Chinese railroad worker at Golden Spike National Historic Park. According to the Chinese Railroad Workers Project, Central Pacific started with a crew of 21 Chinese workers in January 1864. Nearly two decades after the railroad's completion, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from entering the U.S. Chinese immigrants already in America were kept from becoming citizens. A junior at Stanford University, it’s not lost on him that he is attending a school founded by Central Pacific Railroad president Leland Stanford, who profited from Chinese labor. A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at Promontory Summit, Utah. "To me, that's quite meaningful in that it's a final acceptance," said Yu, who added she's also found a kind of closure. 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descendants of chinese railroad workers

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