CPRR Chinese Encampment ca.1868
CPRR Chinese Encampment ca.1868

State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection


Oil on Canvas

Oil on canvas

Not on View



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View all works by: Ken Baxter

Vertical painting with four figures in the lower right foreground. A shaped tents extend into horizon sight line on the right side of the painting. A figure carrying “buckets” on a long stick over the shoulder in the left foreground with train cars extending into the horizon. Created for the exhibition: Transcontinental: People – Place – Impact – at the Rio Gallery, Salt Lake City, 2019.

“The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) used Chinese labor to build the western part of the Transcontinental Railroad. Even though racist attitudes and poor conditions prevailed, these workers proved themselves invaluable for the completion of this awesome task. They brought a strong work ethic, customs, and foods that were healthier than other workers’. Work crews of 12 to 20 (plus extras for replacements), had a headman who collected wages and paid costs (food, clothing, etc), a cook, tea carrier, dried sea foods, bamboo shoots, rice, spices, etc. A box car labeled “China Store” carried specialty items. Historians mention that they used barrels of warm water to take sponge baths at the end of the work day.” Ken Baxter