85: Transcontinental Railroad (pt 3): The Central Pacific, Chinese Workers, & The Golden Spike
“Did they not build the Chinese Wall, the biggest piece of masonry in the world?”
The Central Pacific Railroad is struggling to find long-term construction workers. Many of them quickly leave the CP’s employ to pursue gold and silver in the mines of California or Nevada. But Big Four Associate Charlie Crocker has an idea: why not try hiring Chinese immigrants? The idea is semi-controversial in the eyes of many Americans, but the CP goes for it, and likes the results. Soon, the Chinese make up 90% of the CP’s construction workers, risking their lives as they dangle over cliffs, drill, and blast tunnels through the solid granite of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Both the Central and Union Pacific railroads are bearing down on Utah Territory. Politicking, corporate espionage, labor strikes, struggles of pride and honor and more will all come to bear. Despite these challenges, the transcontinental railroad will be completed. The CP’s Governor Leland Stanford will drive it (or tap it) together with a golden spike no less. We’ll witness the ceremony at Promontory Summit as it happens (two-days late thanks to the UP’s Dr. Thomas Durant) on May 10, 1869.
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