As The Salt Lake Tribune reported, May 10, 2019, is the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railway, at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory.
According to The Tribune, Union Pacific Railroad and the Utah Legislature are each kicking in $1 million or more to, as Gov. Gary Herbert put it, “help us have a party and celebrate like it’s 1869.” Plans include a re-enactment, a children’s choir, visiting steam engines, concerts and photo exhibits.
But so far, no word about a ceremony or celebration to honor the Chinese workers who did most of the heavy labor on the track from San Francisco.
Hundreds of these Chinese pioneers stayed on in Box Elder County, working as section hands on the railroads or resettling throughout Utah, from Ogden to Vernal to St. George, opening stores, restaurants, tailor shops and laundries. Some worked the mines in Tooele County, Carbon County and Park City.
To commemorate this historic event without acknowledging the “sweat, lifeblood and genius of the Chinese railroad man,” to quote HistoryToGo.Utah.gov, shows ignorance bordering on racism. Fortunately, the Spike 150 Commission has time to remedy the oversight. I look forward to learning more about these immigrants who got the job done.
Betty Schoeffler, Salt Lake City