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Chinese Railroad workers honored


Last week we learned about the beginning of our September holiday — Labor Day. On the Department of Labor’s website I followed a link to find there are people or groups of people who have been honored through the years for their contributions to making

In 2014 the Hall of Honor inducted the Chinese Railroad workers. The website states, “From 1865-1869, 12,000 Chinese immigrants constructed the western section of the transcontinental railroad – one of the greatest engineering feats in American history. Their efforts, which connected the western United States to the eastern United States, laid the foundation for the extraordinary economic prosperity enjoyed by the United States in the years that followed. Many of these workers risked their lives and perished during the harsh winters and dangerous working conditions. They faced prejudice, low wages and social isolation. Despite these challenges, they courageously took a stand to organize for fairer wages and safer working conditions. Their efforts not only bridged our nation together, they advanced the cause of good, safe jobs for all workers, immigrant and native workers alike.”

The National Museum of American History states, “About 10,000 to 15,000 Chinese workers came to the United States to build the Central Pacific Railroad. Chinese workers found some economic opportunity but also experienced hostility, racism, violence, and legal exclusion. Many came as single men; others left families behind.”

What hard work that must have been in the blazing heat and the freezing temperatures. Yet, can you imagine a time when you couldn’t get from the East Coast to the West Coast without taking months and months to go by boat or wagon train? Now, thankfully we can hop on an airplane and get there in just a few hours.

But it took the imagination and skills of hard-working people to invent ways to make it happen. Be sure you work hard at your “school job” today!

Photo: Northeastern Nevada Historical Society and Museum.


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