Social Demography of The Chinese In Nevada: 1870-1880

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Published by The Nevada Historical Society in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, volume 28 issue 2, 1975. Users may access this article here.


Nevada Historical Society

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Nevada Historical Society Quarterly


THE FIRST CHINESE to enter Nevada were the 50 Orientals employed by John Reese to dig a ditch at the mouth of Gold Canyon. From 1858 to 1869, "Celestials" trickled across the Sierra taking up the placer mining of gold and performing the menial tasks of the white population. The trickle became a flood when 1 ,000 Chinese were hired to construct the Virginia & Truckee Railroad to the Washoe and Comstock mines, and when the Central Pacific Railroad began building its Nevada section of the Transcontinental Railway . The Central Pacific employed thousands of Chinese coolies,t who diligently "drilled, placed blasts, and spiked down rails" across the state's rugged terrain. 2 After the famous 1869 meeting of the Central Pacific and Union Pac ific railways at Promontory Point, several thousand of the coolies were discharged and spread across Nevada in search ofwork. 3 By 1870 most of these Chinese had implanted themselves in every major Nevada town.

This paper attempts to illuminate the nineteenth century Chinese experience in Nevada by the presentation and brief examination of demographical data extracted from the U.S. Censuses of 1870 and 1880. 4 It focuses upon the distribution, concentration, ages, sex, and occupations of the Chinese during their most populous era in Nevada, i.e., the decade from 1870 to 1880.