Ethnic Chinese at Central Pacific Railroad Maintenance Camps

Author(s): Michael Polk

Year: 2015


The Central Pacific Railroad was completed in May 1869 due, in large part, to the work of thousands of ethnic Chinese railroad workers. After the railroad was complete, it was necessary to upgrade the railroad and carry out maintenance on the far flung transportation network. Railroad documents, previous excavations of ethnic Chinese worker camps in Nevada and recently recorded camps near Promontory Summit, Utah, show that Chinese workers continued to be employed for decades after 1869. It is suggested that maintenance camp design, size, and function continued to generally resemble 1860s construction camps throughout the remainder of the 19th Century.  A number of small maintenance camps on parts of the Central Pacific Railroad are described and comparisons made with known ethnic Chinese construction camps from the 1860s. Use of archaeological site information, railroad documents and census data from 1870, 1880 and 1900 are used to support the idea.  

Cite this Record

Ethnic Chinese at Central Pacific Railroad Maintenance Camps. Michael Polk. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433897)


Temporal Keywords
1860s to 1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 569