Post-Construction Chinese Worker Housing on the Central Pacific Railroad: 1870-1900

Author(s): Michael Polk

Year: 2017


The construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the world, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California, was one fraught with difficulties, involving tens of thousands of workers. When it was completed in May 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) portion of the line, between Ogden, Utah and Sacramento, California, retained many ethnic Chinese workers for operations and maintenance work. Housing for workers during construction was not consistent, however after construction the railroad appears to have built and provided standard housing for its employees. Interestingly, standard bunkhouses and cookhouses appear to have been built specifically for the Chinese workers. This paper examines the possible origin and the nature of the Chinese housing on station plans and archaeology as well as a limited comparison with that for other CPRR employees, other railroads, and industries of the period.   

Cite this Record

Post-Construction Chinese Worker Housing on the Central Pacific Railroad: 1870-1900. Michael Polk. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435169)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 417