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Amateur The manual labor to build the Central Pacific’s roadbed

Amateur , bridges and tunnels was done primarily by many thousands

of emigrant workers from China under the direction of skilled non-Chinese supervisors.

The Chinese were commonly referred to at the time as “Celestials” and China as the “Celestial Kingdom.”

Labor-saving devices in those days consisted primarily of wheelbarrows,

horse or mule pulled carts, and a few railroad pulled gondolas.

The construction work involved an immense amount of manual labor.

Initially, Central Pacific had a hard time hiring and keeping unskilled workers on its line, as many

would leave for the prospect of far more lucrative gold or silver mining options elsewhere.

Despite the concerns expressed by Charles Crocker, one of the “big four” and a general contractor

, that the Chinese were too small in stature[83] and lacking previous

experience with railroad work, they decided to try them anyway.[84] After the first few days of trial

with a few workers, with noticeably positive results, Crocker decided to hire as many as he could

, looking primarily at the California labor force, where the majority

of Chinese worked as independent gold

miners or in the service industries (e.g.: laundries and kitchens). Most of these Chinese workers

were represented by a Chinese “boss” who translated, collected salaries for his crew, kept discipline

and relayed orders from an American general supervisor. Most Chinese workers spoke only

rudimentary or no English, and the supervisors typically only learned rudimentary Chinese.

Many more workers were imported from the Guangdong Province of China, which at the time

, beside great poverty, suffered from the violence of the Taiping Rebellion. Most Chinese workers

were planning on returning with their newfound “wealth” when the work was completed.

Most of the men received between one and three dollars per day, the same as unskilled white workers

; but the workers imported directly from China sometimes received less. A diligent worker could save

over $20 per month after paying for food and lodging—a “fortune” by Chinese standards.

A snapshot of workers in late 1865 showed about 3,000 Chinese and 1,700 white workers employed

on the railroad. Nearly all of the white workers were in supervisory or

skilled craft positions and made more money than the Chinese.

From:
Date: August 3, 2020