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History

The Forgotten History Of Chinese Railroad Workers

chinese railroad workers
Courty of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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Felicity Tao (left) and Chinese Ambassador Huang Ping during the exhibit’s opening reception at the Downtown Main Library.";

When the American transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, it brought with it a major transformation to the United States. The railroad, which stretched 1,900 miles from the east to the Pacific Coast, drastically shortened what was a dangerous journey across the country. Often forgotten in this remarkable story are the nearly 20,000 Chinese workers who completed the West Coast segment of the railroad.

They endured dangerous working conditions and little to no wages. Not only were they not recognized for their work, but they were openly discriminated against.

A new exhibit at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County celebrates the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad and reveals the contributions of the Chinese workers who made it possible. Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the exhibit and the history of the railroad are Greater Cincinnati Chinese Cultural Exchange Association Chair Felicity Tao; and Stanford University Director of Research for the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project Roland Hsu.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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