Whose Been Working on the Railroad?


Thousands of Overseas Chinese laborers helped construct the Northern Pacific Railroad through western Montana and Northern Idaho in 1881-1883. Segregated from white workers in separate Chinese Labor Camps, the Chinese left behind a rich archaeological record of their brief stay s they worked along "the front." Left behind at many of their camps are coins minted in China, Vietnam and Japan. Mon-monetary uses of these coins as elements in traditional after-work recreation, particularly in gaming. The coin assemblages recovered from these sites are compared with other assemblages from Overseas Chinese sites and represent a significant contribution to the numismatic archaeology of the Chinese in America.

This presentation was made in September 2012 at the Idaho Archaeological Society Conference held in Moscow, Idaho.