The Golden Spike National Historical Park: The Chinaman's Arch

Often we neglect history and we take it for granted. Important facts that are essential to know and understand from the past, lead to a more profound and tolerant future. To remember the pursuit of people for a better life, while giving their efforts for the betterment of a country is best served by a monumental historical place that speaks about their harsh lives and all the trouble that they went through.

One such site is the Golden Spike National Historical Park. It is a monument to the Chinese laborers that took a large part in building the Transcontinental Railroad.

Many thousands of workers participated in the construction of this railroad, and the number of Chinese workers at the end of the project was about 11,000. Their employer was the Central Pacific Railroad building out of Sacramento, California. The engagement of the Chinese workforce first started as an experiment with fifty workers that was built up over time to the previously mentioned number.

There were many doubts and prejudices regarding the Chinese workforce. They faced a stereotype of having less strength and endurance than their colleagues of other races, but in time they proved to be the most effective workforce. Besides the efficiency, their work also proved to be high quality workmanship. Another interesting fact is that a crew of Chinese workers still holds the record today of laying 10 miles of track in one day.

Many of the Chinese workers died during the construction of the railroad. There is documentation that at least 100 Central Pacific workers lost their lives in a single avalanche while building through Sierra Nevada, and they were mostly Chinese.
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The Golden Spike National Historical Park honors the legacy of these early Chinese immigrants that came looking for a better life. To that purpose, the administrators of the park selected a unique Cuprous Quartzite stone which can be easily seen in the rock work of the visitor center’s external walls. The form of this quartzite is light green (it is very rare), and was only found in one local quarry as well as in China and it stands as a symbol of connection. There is also a plaque in the park which commemorates the Chinese workers that died and their accomplishments. The plaque was received as a donation from the Chinese Historical Society of America. The park also maintains a natural arch which is known by the name of Chinaman’s Arch. It was named like that by the first Transcontinental Railroad Passengers when they rode by the Chinese work camps located near the arch.

Regarding the stories of Chinese immigrants, their worries and struggles while working on the railroad, history picked a powerful monument in nature which is the backbone of remembrance of the lives lived and ended on the railroad. Also, as a token to the accomplishments of the Chinese people, the plaque and the Cuprous Quartzite stone were put in the park to fully appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that was made.

Today the Golden Spike National Historical Park is today a quiet place. It is all ranch and scrub, 30 miles to the nearest town. No one would say that this was a living, breathing place where history happened. It is only when we think of the lives lived and spent on the railroad that we understand its importance.


Mislav Zlomisli─ç is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. He is a former student of Zagreb school of economics and management, Zagreb, Croatia


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item The Golden Spike National Historical Park: The Chinaman's Arch
The Golden Spike National Historical Park: The Chinaman's Arch
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