Washington, DC — May 10 marks the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the continental United States from coast to coast and ushered in a new era of American prosperity. The completion of the railroad would not have been possible without the labor of over 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped to build this engineering marvel even in the face of great adversity and racial discrimination.
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) hosted an event at the Library of Congress to honor the contributions these workers today. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), chair of CAPAC, issued the following statement:
“150 years ago, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad marked an inflection point in history that forever changed our nation. It brought tremendous change and growth to the United States by bridging our coasts and facilitating greater economic development and prosperity. But this engineering feat would not have possible without the invaluable contributions of the 12,000 Chinese labors who made up over 80 percent of Central Pacific Railroad workforce. They endured treacherous conditions and faced intense racial discrimination, yet their stories are often overlooked in U.S. history books. That’s why I was so pleased to host an event at the Library of Congress to highlight the contributions of these Chinese laborers and to honor their role in shaping American history. 150 years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, it is more important now than ever that we continue to tell their stories and ensure these pioneers get the recognition they deserve.”