Fifteen Facts / 15个修建铁路小知识
- President Abraham Lincoln signs the first Pacific Railroad Act on July 1, 1862, the first concrete step by the federal government to provide support for the transcontinental railroad.
- The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the Pacific Railroads. It started construction in 1863 and was completed on May 10, 1869
- When the railroad began construction in 1863, the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) began building east from Sacramento, California on September 25. While the Union Pacific Railroad was tasked with building west from Omaha, Nebraska on November 2nd. The two lines would eventually meet at Promontory Summit, Utah.
- The four California businessmen, philanthropists turned railroad tycoons that made up the Central Pacific Railroad were Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins. The men were collectively known as “The Big Four,” and all profited handsomely from their association with the railroad
- Thomas C. Durant was appointed Vice President of the Union Pacific railroad company in 1863. He held this post until 1869 when he implicated in a scandal involving fraud within the company.
- 15,000+ Chinese immigrant, 10,000 Irish immigrants, 3-4,000 Mormon Workers, and 2,000 Civil War veterans were involved in the construction of the railroad
- In 1864 the Central Pacific railroad hired their first Chinese workers with workers being paid as little as $26 a month for a six day work week.
- Charles Crocker (CPRR Construction Supervisor) convinces foreman James Harvey Strobridge to look to increasing Chinese employment in order to enlarge the overall labor pool on January 20, 1865
- Tunnels needed to be constructed through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Summit Tunnel Number 6, the longest of the 13 tunnels at 1,659 feet and 124 feet below surface was completed in fall of 1865. This was due to many Chinese workers undertaking triple shifts.
- At Cape Horn, California the train tracks needed to go around the mountain. In order to accomplish this, Chinese workers were lowered down the side of the mountain in baskets and told to drill holes and plant explosives before being hauled up. Some workers were killed when baskets fell or explosions exploded prematurely.
- The winter of 1866-1867 was one of the harshest winters in history; seeing 44 recorded storms and a total of 40 feet of snow at the summit. Chinese workers had to continue working to dig out tunnels through the Sierra Nevada that were sometimes 500 feet long. They stayed in ice caves before entering the darkness of the tunnels for their shifts. Avalanches would wipe out entire camps and kill workers; the largest killed 20 workers while smaller ones would pick off individuals.
- In June 1867, several thousand Chinese went on strike due to unfair wages. They were seeking an increase in pay from $35 to $40 per month and a reduced work day of 8 hours instead of their current 12+. The strike lasted about a week and ended when management cut off food trains and starved the workers out; the strike was unsuccessful.
- On April 28, 1869 The Central Pacific railroad team, which consisted of mostly Chinese workers, set a record for laying 10 miles and 56 feet of track in 12 hours at Rozel, Utah. This beat the previous record of 7 miles that their competitors at the Union Pacific claimed could not be beaten.
- Promontory Point, Utah was the meeting point where the two railroads came together on May 10, 1869. The last tie was laid and hammered together with a Golden Spike, made of bronze and gold.
- The total length of the first transcontinental railroad was 1776 miles, with 690 miles completed by the Central Pacific Railroad and 1086 miles by the Union Pacific Railroad
Sources / 资料来源：
• Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project Stanford University 北美中国铁路劳工项目 斯坦福大学
• Spencer Fox Eccles: Treasures of the Transcontinental Railroad Exhibition (Salt Lake City, Utah) by Utah Department of Heritage and Arts and Golden Spike 150 展览Spencer Fox Eccles: 很观大陆铁路的宝藏 （犹他州盐湖城），由犹他州文化遗产和艺术局及金道钉150联合举办
• Tracing the Path Photo Exhibition (Salt Lake City, Utah) by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association and Golden Spike 150
• Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum 中央太平洋铁路照片历史博物馆
2019 is the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. To commemorate the contribution of the Chinese laborer to this monumental railroad, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has designated its 2019 TCS NYC Marathon event as MOCA Spike 150 – Running Forward With Our Stories！ We encourage everyone to participate through 1) our national relay and 2) a story a day which consists of 150 Chinese American personal stories. We hope you will continue to follow and support us. Go tell your story. Reflect on the past; root in the present and embrace the future. Let us add to the American history, making it fuller and richer.