Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 7, 2019 - History - 304 pages
“Gripping… Chang has accomplished the seemingly impossible… he has written a remarkably rich, human and compelling story of the railroad Chinese.”—Peter Cozzens, Wall Street Journal

A groundbreaking, breathtaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history until now.

From across the sea, they came by the thousands, escaping war and poverty in southern China to seek their fortunes in America. Converging on the enormous western worksite of the Transcontinental Railroad, the migrants spent years dynamiting tunnels through the snow-packed cliffs of the Sierra Nevada and laying tracks across the burning Utah desert. Their sweat and blood fueled the ascent of an interlinked, industrial United States. But those of them who survived this perilous effort would suffer a different kind of death—a historical one, as they were pushed first to the margins of American life and then to the fringes of public memory. 

In this groundbreaking account, award-winning scholar Gordon H. Chang draws on unprecedented research to recover the Chinese railroad workers’ stories and celebrate their role in remaking America. An invaluable correction of a great historical injustice, Ghosts of Gold Mountain returns these “silent spikes” to their rightful place in our national saga.

“The lived experience of the Railroad Chinese has long been elusive... Chang’s book is a moving effort to recover their stories and honor their indispensable contribution to the building of modern America.”—The New York Times

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lauriebrown54 - LibraryThing

Most Americans learn in school that there were Chinese workers on the transcontinental railroad project, but that’s usually where it stops. Chang, professor of humanities and of history at Stanford ... Read full review

Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

In this ambitious saga, Chang (Fateful Ties), a professor of American history, burrows deep into the margins of history, attempting to reveal the experiences of the Chinese men who labored on the ... Read full review


1 Guangdong
2 Gold Mountain
3 Central Pacific
4 Foothills
5 The High Sierra
6 The Summit
7 The Strike
8 Truckee
9 The Golden Spike
10 Beyond Promontory
Back Matter
Back Flap
Back Cover

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2019)

GORDON H. CHANG is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities and Professor of History at Stanford University, where he also serves as director of the Center for East Asian Studies and codirector of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project. Chang is the author of Fateful Ties and editor of four other books. He lives in Stanford, California.

Bibliographic information