Central Pacific RR – Construction #00530, Utah State Historical Society

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

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Through photographs, historical documents, and excavated fragments of imported Chinese ceramics, this exhibit seeks to explore the unique history of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Chinese workers in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.


2023-2024 Traveling Schedule

Heritage Museum of Layton, 2/12/24 - 3/23

2022-2023 Traveling Schedule

Echo Historic Church Museum, Echo, May 12 - Sep 6, 2022
Stansbury High School, Stansbury, Nov 9 - Dec 7, 2022
Snow College Library, Ephraim Feb 1 - Mar 1, 2023

2021-2022 Traveling Schedule

Museum of Moab, May 24 - Aug 16
Hutchings Museum, Lehi, Aug 30 - Oct 14
Boulder Community Center Gallery, Boulder, Apr 19 - May 31, 2022
Hub City Gallery, Mapleton, June 30 - Aug 1

2020-2021 Traveling Schedule

Weber State University, Stewart Library, Ogden Mar 1 - May 4, 2021

2019-2020 Traveling Schedule

Western Mining & Railroad Museum, Helper, Aug 8 - Sep 12
Entrada Institute, Torrey, Oct 8 - Nov 5
Old Dome Meeting Hall, Riverton, Jan 23 - March 16
Tooele High School, Tooele, Canceled

2018-2019 Traveling Schedule

Ledges Event Center, Coalville Aug 22 – Sep 25
Kane County Healing Arts, Kanab Sep 26 – Oct 29
Rich Middle School, Laketown, Nov 1 – 29
Delta City Public Library, Jan 9 – Feb 7, 2019
USU Merrill-Cazier Library, Logan, Feb 8 – Mar 25
Early Light Academy, Daybreak, Mar 25 – Apr 25
Open Classroom, Salt Lake City, Apr 25 – May 23