Through Toil and Labor: The Forgotten History of Utah's Chinese Railroad Workers.

  • Oct 1, 2018

Kane County Hospital is very pleased to be hosting the Utah Traveling Arts exhibit, “Through Toil and Labor: The Forgotten History of Utah’s Chinese Railroad Workers.” The Utah Division of Arts and Museums has partnered with the Utah State Historical Society and created this visual history of the Chinese labor force during the Central Pacific Railroad construction.

With the ceremonial completion of the United States’ first Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, the nation entered a new age of commerce and travel. The momentous meeting of the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah meant goods and services could now move across the country in quantities and at speeds previously unknown. Key to this massive effort to connect the nation were the contributions of thousands of immigrant workers from around the globe.

Chinese immigrants composed over 75 percent of the Transcontinental Railroad workforce between 1865 and 1869, numbering over 11,000 by its completion. These Chinese laborers, mostly young men ages 15-25, left their families and homes in China to seek new economic opportunities. The contributions of these Chinese railroad workers to Utah and the United States are slowly becoming better known.

Through photographs, historical documents, and excavated fragments of imported Chinese ceramics, this exhibit seeks to explore the unique history of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Chinese workers in Utah, discuss their daily lives, and share what’s been learned from the artifacts they left behind.

“The Forgotten History of Utah’s Chinese Railroad Workers” will be on display from September 26 through October 29. Each photo or artifact displayed is accompanied with a brief commentary explain the scene or objects. This showing has captured a part of Utah’s history that many of us have forgotten. The display is in the main corridor of the Kane County Hospital, the public is welcome from 8:00 – 5:00 and to our patients, residents and family members 24/7.