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Chinese immigrants contributed mightily to this feat, but the historical accounts that followed often marginalized their role. Between and , as many as 20, Chinese workers helped build the treacherous western portion of the railroad, a winding ribbon of track known as the Central Pacific that began in Sacramento. When not enough white men signed up, the railroad began hiring Chinese men for the backbreaking labor. No women worked on the line.
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The Transcontinental Railroad and the Asian-American Story
Building the Transcontinental Railroad: How 20, Chinese Immigrants Made It Happen - HISTORY
The history of Chinese Americans or the history of ethnic Chinese in the United States includes three major waves of Chinese immigration to the United States, beginning in the 19th century. Chinese immigrants in the 19th century worked as laborers, particularly on transcontinental railroads such as the Central Pacific Railroad. They came not only for the gold rush in California, but were also hired to help build the First Transcontinental Railroad. They also worked as laborers in mining, and suffered racial discrimination at every level of society. Industrial employers were eager for this new and cheap labor. This resulted in many white people losing their jobs and were stirred to anger by the " yellow peril.
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'Forgotten by society' – how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad
Before , when the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway CPR made movement across the country cheap and convenient, British Columbia was difficult to access from other parts of Canada. Creating a better transportation system was essential to connect the new Confederation. With the beginning of the construction of the CPR in the s, Chinese workers were crucial for building the difficult western sections of the railway. Over the course of construction and by the end of , of the 9, railway workers, 6, were Chinese Canadians.
A ceremony commemorating the anniversary drew a crowd of around 20, Among the attendees were Philip P. Chinn, one of its founders. Centennial officials had agreed to set aside five minutes of the ceremony for the society to pay homage to the Chinese workers who had helped build the railroad, but whose contributions had been largely glossed over in history.