China Wall of the Sierra - Truckee, CA

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Just outside and to the left of this tunnel is a hand built retaining wall that was constructed by Chinese laborers. It is now known as China Wall. Construction began in the fall of 1866 as the tunnels were being blasted out of solid rock also by Chinese laborers. The Central Pacific Railroad imported the Chinese to do the work because of their willingness to work for a fraction of normal pay.

It's worth noting that this desirable work ethic resulted in a racial backlash in 1886, when the Knights of Labor spread the racist message under the the auspices of the Workingmans Party that “The Chinese must go”.   The movement included in the boycotting of Chinese businesses and the violent expulsion of Chinese inhabitants from Truckee. (Source: "Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans" by Jean Pfaelzer. 2007. Page xx).

During the construction of the tunnels and walls, many Chinese lost their lives while setting charges to blast a road bed out of the rock solid cliffs. Others froze to death. By spring of 1867, snow tunnels were dug into the bottom of the wall and rock was placed by hand. Much of the lower portion of the wall were built under the snowdrifts.

In 1984 a marker was placed by the by Truckee-Donner Historical Society commemorating the efforts of those that built the wall and blasted the tunnels that reads: "Charles Crocker, Construction Chief of the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR), contracted for a workforce of approximately 12,000 Chinese laborers to push the CPRR tracks over its Trans-Sierra Crossing on its race east to a meet with the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah Territory. A railroad retaining wall and fill, constructed of Sierra granite, stand silently above on the pass as a lasting monument to the Asian “Master Builders” who left an indelible mark on the history of California and the West."
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Latitude: 39° 18' 56" N, Longitude: 120° 19' 16" W see »

Localisation: United States

Panoramas by Tanja Barnes

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