The Latest: Chinese rail workers hailed at anniversary event
The Associated Press
May 09, 2019 01:14 PM
The Big Boy, No. 4014 arrives during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad completion at Union Station Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Ogden, Utah.
The Latest on events marking the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad (all times local):
Descendants of Chinese laborers who worked on America’s Transcontinental Railroad are helping commemorate the 150th anniversary of the railroad’s completion.
Members of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association and thousands of others attended a celebration Thursday in Ogden, Utah, that featured a pair of restored 1940s-era locomotives.
Association member Margaret Yee represented her ancestors on stage alongside Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz. Yee says she and others are working to ensure the workers receive the recognition they deserve.
Fritz also hailed the laborers who put in 12-hour days in brutal conditions to build the railroad by hand. He says their work “changed America forever.”
Fritz says the Transcontinental Railroad changed hazardous, six-month trips from New York to San Francisco into relatively comfortable 10-day excursions.
Several thousand train lovers have gathered in Utah to catch a glimpse of a pair of restored 1940s-era steam engines and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
The crowd packed in behind barriers and hoisted their phones and cameras to snap photos as the trains spouted steam and blasted their horns at an event Thursday in Ogden.
Attendees included a British family that traveled to Utah to fulfill a train engineer’s dying wish last year to have his ashes put in the boiler of the Big Boy train. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert held a box with the man’s ashes at the ceremony and promised to fulfill the wish.
During a brief presentation, Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz hailed the laborers who worked 12-hour days in brutal conditions to build the railroad by hand.
More than a century after Chinese workers helped build a portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, their descendants are pushing for more than a token mention in history.
Members of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association are gathering in Utah this week to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the railroad’s completion.
Events include a ceremonial tapping of a spike Thursday in Ogden and a celebration Friday in Promontory Summit, where the final golden spike was hammered in on May 10, 1869.
Association president Michael Kwan says the milestone year has been an opportunity to educate the public about their ancestors and what they endured.
Historians estimate 20,000 Chinese immigrants accounted for 90% of the workforce on the Central Pacific portion of the railroad.