Chinese Narrow Gauge rail workers commemorated
A new Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission plaque dedicated to the Chinese Narrow Gauge Rail workers, was commemorated last month by members of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.
Local historians, government officials, as well as representatives of the California Commission on Asian & Pacific Islander American Affairs were in attendance.
The plaque reads as follows:
In the race to build the Western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Central Pacific Railroad recruited over 10,000 young men from China, creating a skilled and dependable work force.
Upon completion many of these workers who had gone to America under contract for employment, returned home to China. Others remained to find employment building railroads throughout the United States
This site marks one end of the 22-mile Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad that connected Nevada City and Grass Valley with Colfax and the Central Pacific Railroad. After construction of the NCNGRR started in 1875, over 300 Chinese immigrants labored to build the railroad. They built the railroad grade over the rugged and uneven terrain between Colfax and Grass Valley scaling canyons, filling ravines, and prepared the way for bridges and trestles using hand tools, horse drawn scrapers, hand carts, and their determination. They completed the task in early 1876. Although considered more dependable than white workers, they were paid less.
When the railroad was completed in 1876 most of the Chinese moved on to other railroad construction projects; a few Chinese workers remained as track workers maintaining the NCNGRR. Apart from laboring on the railroad, several Chinese businessmen in Nevada City were investors and retained stock in the company into the 20th century. The contributions of Chinese immigrants were an essential element in the building and success of the NCNGRR.
Jeff Duran teaches cribbage as an elective at Ready Springs Elementary and Saturday students competed in two divisions based on skill and experience.
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