Chinese Railroad Workers At Central Pacific Stations Ca. 1870s-1880s

Author(s): Michael Polk

Year: 2016


The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) was completed in May 1869. Much of the work on that railroad was carried out by more than 10,000 ethnic Chinese workers. After completion of the railroad many, if not most, of them either returned to China or left for work in the mining industry or construction on other railroads. However, a large number remained with the CPRR to work on railroad maintenance. Ethnic Chinese appear to have been a dominant labor force through the mid 1880s, perhaps longer, as evidenced by their significant presence at 48 of 61 railroad maintenance stations extending from western Nevada   to Ogden, Utah. Using census information, railroad documents, and detailed archaeological site information from six section camps in Nevada and Utah, comparisons are made between stations revealing elements of original construction camp design and its evolution through time to improve efficiency and reduce cost.

Cite this Record

Chinese Railroad Workers At Central Pacific Stations Ca. 1870s-1880s. Michael Polk. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434343)


Temporal Keywords
Late 19th Century

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 793