Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Pioneer Chinese of Utah

Don. Conley
The distance from the subtropical rice paddies of China's southernmost province to the mountainous desert of the Great Basin spans one-third of the earth's circumference. Along this tumultuous course of Pacific Ocean waves and Sierra Nevada mountain peaks came Chinese men to forge an integral but mostly forgotten link in Utah's frontier life.
The majority of the approximately one hundred thousand Chinese arriving at the port of San Francisco between 1860 and 1880 came from Kwangtung Province.1 In its capital, Kwangchow (Canton), the first trade between China and western nations flourished from 1760 to 1840.2 This commercial venture brought news of American current events, such as the California gold rush, that stimulated the imaginations of adventuresome Cantonese. The confrontation of two civilizations determined the future of many Chinese who found themselves toiling in factories, mines, chophouses, laundries, and building the first railroads in North America.

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