April 17, 2019

First Transcontinental Railroad Sesquicentennial Activities

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the 1869 completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.  Thousands of Chinese workers and entrepreneurs helped build one of the major marvels of the 19th century, and this year many programs have been scheduled in recognition of this achievement.  Below is a list of some of the upcoming programs.  A more complete list can be found at https://spike150.org/events/


Wed April 17  7:30-8:30 PM, Rothenberg Hall, Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino

Off the Beaten Tracks: Little-Known Facts and Well-known Fiction about Chinese Railroad Workers.

Sue Fawn Chung, professor emerita at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, presents some facts and fictions about late 19th-century Chinese railroad workers. Chung also introduces a newly published work on the subject: The Chinese and the Iron Road (Gordon Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, editors; Stanford University Press). A book signing follows the program.  Free and open to public.



April 11 – Tresidder Union, Oak Lounge, Stanford University

2:00-400 PM – Public reception: historical visualizations, school curriculum modules, student research, archaeological discoveries, book releases, etc.

4:15-5:30 PM – Formal remarks by University Leadership and Leaders of the Stanford Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project


Tue May 7 6:00-8:00 PM – Union Station, Ogden, Utah (not L.A.)

Chinese Migrants and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Professor of English at Stanford University.



Wed May 8 @ 7:00 PM – Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah

Working on the Railroad:  Chinese Workers and America’s First Transcontinental Line.

Gordon H. Chang, Professor in Humanities at Stanford University.



May 8-9 in Salt Lake City (sold out), and May 10-11 in Ogden

Gold Mountain, a new musical, written by Jason Ma

Gold Mountain, a new original musical, is a love story set against the backdrop of a pivotal event in America’s history: the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. It is a heartfelt, universal tale that celebrates the striving immigrant spirit, the redemptive power of love, and the ultimate nobility of self-sacrifice among a team of Chinese railroad workers.



May 8-11 2019 Golden Spike Conference, Salt Lake City

Organized by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association

The CRWDA has organized bus tours, scheduled multiple talks, events and meals, and discounted rooms at the Marriott – City Creek in Salt Lake City.   See web site for details:  https://www.goldenspike150.org/golden-spike-conference


May 10-12 @ Golden Spike National Historic Site

The National Park Service has organized a multi-day schedule of activities, including a re-enactment of the driving of the Golden Spike by local actors:



In addition to all of the above events, one of the best resources for information on the historic involvement of Chinese in railroad construction can be found on the Stanford Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project web site:


Some very enlightening information about the building of the Central Pacific can be found on this page:



Due to the multitude of events on different days and the complexity of scheduling and logistics, we have not organized any kind of group transportation to Utah.  However, you may wish to work with friends and family to fly or carpool together to Utah.  Those who like driving may wish to make an overnight stop in Las Vegas, and from there it’s about 6 hours on the open highway to Salt Lake City.  The Golden Spike National Historic Site is about another 90 minutes from SlC.  Of course, there are many flights to SLC also, and if you register for the conference, there will be transportation available to some of the venues  However you celebrate it….