Railway coolie essay - Essay Service
An Indiscreet Letter_Chinese_railroad_workers - Coldnoon
Edson T. Strobridge comments: "The story of the ten miles of track laid in one day has a number of assumptions that really make it impossible to know the exact numbers. First of all, Stillman wasn't there at the time and describes the event while on his way to the 'Last Spike' ceremony at Promontory so one can only assume that he has used information taken from the reports of others. He really didn't do too badly except for his reporting of the rails being 50 feet in length and his estimate of 74 tons per man. I would guess that his use of the 50' is the result of a typographical error as he is the only one using that figure. All the other reports report the rail lengths as 30'. By law, rails on the Pacific Railroad could be no less that 56 lbs/yard hence a 30 foot (10 yard) rail weighed 560 pounds. The problem was that all rails were not the same length, they varied from as long as 30' to as short as 22' which was acceptable under Huntington's contracts. Rail manufacturing had not developed to the point that iron quality was good enough that every rail could be cut to the same length and any rail the Iron Co. couldn't sell had to be re-rolled or scrapped. Shipping was also a problem as not all available ships could handle 30' rails. James Harvey Strobridge in an interview stated '1000' tons and '3500' rails were laid on April 28th, 1869 for a distance of ten miles and 200 feet however he stated that the UP Engineers measured the distance so no errors would be made. The actual figure accepted was ten miles and 56 lineal feet of track. 3500 rails weighed on average something less than 560 lbs due the varied lengths however assuming all rails were 30' and the weight was 560 lbs that would provide a total weight of about 980 tons. So each of the Irish rail handlers unloaded a total of about 122.5 tons during the 11 hours they worked. Another way of looking at it is that the total length of rail (ten miles and 56') equaled 105,656 lineal feet divided by 30' = 3522 rails. So J.H. Strobridge wasn't too far off on his recollection and that depends if no side tracks were laid for passing construction trains(which no one ever addressed) and his 3500 rails wasn't too bad either. Throw in the possibility that all rails were not 30' but something shorter just adds more confusion. It would be my bet that J.H. Strobridge would probably be rolling with laughter right now if he knew of our effort to tie down the facts to such a great detail as there was never an exact counting of material in those days. They lost entire stacks of rail which were not found until the snow melted. Rails were not ordered by the foot but by the ton, shipped by the ton and counted by the rail/ton. The reporting of the event of ten miles of track in one day was embellished by everyone who reported the story to make it as interesting as they could. One fact that did come out of the days story was just how much weight eight strong men could handle in one day. One fact that was not widely reported was that it took the work of three track bosses, H.H. Minkler, his two assistants, Frank Freitis and Mike Stanton to make it all work. Charles Crocker gave Minkler a $500 bonus for his efforts and I assume that he shared it with his key men. One fact that cannot be challenged is that the rail was 56#/yd +- depending on when it was rolled in the life of the roll. The more the roll wore, the larger the pattern became and the more the rail weighed. ... Another fact not widely reported was that the railroad fed 5,000 men in the one hour break for restand lunch."
George Orwell - Rudyard Kipling - Essay
"Long lines of horses, mules and wagons were standing in the open desert near the camp train. The stock was getting its breakfast of hay and barley. Trains were shunting in from the west with supplies and materials for the day's work. Foremen were galloping here and there on horseback giving or receiving orders. Swarms of laborers, Chinese, Europeans and Americans were hurrying to their work. On one side of the track stood the moveable blacksmith shop where a score of smiths were repairing tools and shoeing horses and mules. Close by was the fully equipped harness shop where a large force was repairing collars, traces and other leather equipment. To the west were the rails and line of telegraph poles stretching back as far as the eye could reach. The telegraph wire from the last pole was strung into the car that served as a telegraph office. To the eastward stretched the grade marked by a line of newly distributed earth. By the side of the grade smoked the camp fires of the blue clad laborers who could be seen in groups waiting for the signal to start work. These were the Chinese, and the job of this particular contingent was to clear a level roadbed for the track. They were the vanguard of the construction forces. Miles back was the camp of the rear guard–the Chinese who followed the track gang, ballasting and finishing the road bed. Systematic workers these Chinese–competent and wonderfully effective because tireless and unremitting in their industry ... The rails, ties and other material were thrown off the train as near to end of the track was as feasible, and then the empty train was drawn back out of the way. At this point the rails were loaded on low flat cars, and hauled by horses to end of track. The ties were handled in the same way. Behind came the rail gang, who took the rails from the flat cars and laid them on the ties. While they were doing this a man on each side distributed spikes, two to each tie; another distributed splice bars; and a third the bolts and nuts by which the rails were spliced together. Two more men followed to adjust and sent back for another load ... Back of the track builders followed a gang with the seven more ties necessary to complete the foundation for each rail. These were put into position and spiked by another gang, which also leveled up the track and left it ready for the ballasters. ..."