California museum head lauds Chinese workers' role in building 1st U.S. transcontinental railroad

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-09 19:48:06|Editor: ZX
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 8 (Xinhua) -- A California railroad museum head on Wednesday praised Chinese workers' role in the building of the first American Transcontinental Railroad, saying it made a significant impact.

Ty Smith, director of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, capital of California, made the remarks at an event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the railroad's completion.

The major rail project that put the United States on a path to economic prosperity initially looked almost impossible at a time when the country was entangled in the Civil War, Smith told hundreds of people gathered for the anniversary event.

He mentioned the comment of William Sherman, the commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Civil War, who reacted with disbelief to the idea of building a railway across the American continent.

Calling the plan a "crazy" idea, Sherman asserted there was no way it was going to be done.

However, the Chinese immigrants "toiled, worked and gave their blood, sweat and tears ... making something that existed on paper really live in the world," said Smith.

Smith said his museum has worked in partnership with the Chinese American community in both Sacramento and San Francisco to add new exhibits on the story of Chinese workers in the museum.

"This history of building the Transcontinental Railroad is a Chinese story as well as a United States story ... it's a wonderful contribution. It's part of the United States history, it's part of the world history," Smith told Xinhua shortly after the event.

The role of the Chinese rail workers has been neglected for a long time in U.S. history, he said, adding that his museum is holding a new exhibit on a larger story of Chinese immigration and the long-dated connection between China and the United States.

Sacramento held a series of festive activities to celebrate the anniversary, including a huge procession in the area of Old Sacrament City, recreating a historic moment on May 8, 1869, when the railroad was completed.