The following dialogue is a spin-off from Stories from American History by Myrtis Mixon.
In 1849, gold was discovered in California and thousands of people headed west for gold and for farmland. People traveled across the plains and mountains in wagons pulled by oxen, or they sailed on ships around South America and back up the West Coast. The trip took many months, and it was very dangerous. In the 1860's, Congress chose two companies to build a transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad built the tracks west from Nebraska. The Central Pacific Railroad built east from California. After three years, the tracks were joined at Promontory Point in Utah on May 10, 1869. The transcontinental railroad meant that a person could travel from New York to San Francisco in just 7 days!
From Sacramento, the railroad rose 10,000 feet in the mountains in just 100 miles. The Central Pacific Railroad could not keep its workers. They quit as soon as they got to the Sierra Nevada, where they wanted to look for gold. Laying track over the mountains was hard and dangerous work. After two years, only 56 miles of track had been laid going east from Sacramento. Then Charles Crocker, the Central Pacific track boss, hired Chinese laborers.
Conditions in China were terrible. The Chinese wanted to send money home to their families. They were very hard workers. They were clean, ate a healthy diet, boiled their drinking water, and did not get sick like the other workers. The work conditions were very dangerous. Many workers died as a result of accidents. In June 1867, the Chinese workers began a strike against the railroads. They wanted better pay.
As the story goes...Wing Ho, one of the younger Chinese workers, wanted to lead a strike for better pay and shorter hours. He also did not want to work with the new "dynamite," or nitroglycerine. Ah Chu, the older head man (leader), was against the strike because he did not want trouble from the bosses, Strobridge and Crocker.