First monument in Utah honoring Chinese railroad workers approved

Acacia Yuan For The Herald Journal

Recently, the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association (CRWDA) proudly announced the Utah Capitol Grounds Committee has officially approved an application for a monument to Chinese railroad workers.

It will soon stand on the southeast side of the Utah State Capitol building. This monument records the outstanding achievements of the Chinese railroad workers.

The proposal to erect the monument was submitted by CRWDA to the Government of Utah, and The State Capitol Grounds Commission approved the application.

According to the CRWDA website, the monument will honor more than 12,000 Chinese railroad workers, whose strength, skill and determination led to the completion of the western section of the first transcontinental railroad.

As the Chinese workers drove in the final spikes in 1869, the railways were connected. The speed, affordability, convenience and reliability of the railway opened the door to the west, connected the east and west coasts, promoted the development of the national economy and enabled the rapid growth of foreign trade between the United States and the Pacific coast countries, according to the CRWDA website.

The Chinese Railroad Workers Monument will serve as a permanent reminder to everyone visiting the Utah State Capitol — Asian immigrants played an indispensable role in the construction of the United States.

Twelve years after the first Mormon pioneers from took root in the Great Salt Lake Valley, Asian pioneers came to Utah. They stood shoulder to shoulder with other immigrants, Native Americans, former slaves, Civil War veterans and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who poured their blood, sweat and tears into the construction of our state of Utah.

However, due to ethnic discrimination such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the great achievements of Chinese laborers were not recognized in the past. This unique monument will carry forward the historical mission to remember the contributions of our ancestors and inspire future generations.

The monument was designed by Porheang Ear, associate architect of MJSA Architects. Chief Architectural Designer, Kin Ng, also a descendant of Chinese railway workers, will supervise the project.

In Salt Lake City, MJSA is an architectural design company best known for completing Capitol restoration projects and constructing the Utah Peace Officers Memorial at the Capitol. As a public service project, the monument benefited from MJSA’s generous donation of designing and construction.

The monument will consist of large slabs of granite and sandstone. The granite represents the plateau ridges, and the sandstone represents entering into the Great Salt Lake Desert from Nevada.

The solid stainless-steel core is reinforced behind the overall structure, symbolizing the fortitude and infinite strength of Chinese railroad workers. A stainless-steel core cutout marks the monument’s location on the southeast side of the Capitol. A plaque chronicles the shared feats of Chinese workers, as well as other immigrants, Native Americans, former slaves, Civil War veterans and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As descendants and friends of the Chinese railroad workers of the 1860s, CRWDA members are proud of their contributions. CRWDA will work with community partners and the public to raise funds and utilize the local materials to build this ambitious project.

A grand unveiling ceremony is planned for the 155th Golden Spike Festival in 2024.

CRWDA’s website asks to receive tax-deductible donations from the community, which will be used for the construction, installation and maintenance of the monument. The CRWDA believes the perseverance, dedication and sacrifice of the Chinese workers will never and should never be forgotten by everyone.

Donation methods are available through the website at or to Venmo National JACL Credit Union, noting payment for CRWDA.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: