Views
9 months ago

Destination Nevada County

Premium visitors magazine for Nevada County produced by the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

has been lost in the

has been lost in the annals of time. Today’s viewers are left to fill in the blanks in an attempt to guess at their story. Not far above the petroglyphs, and in more recent history (just a mere hundred and fifty years ago), another story with blank pages exists – the names and personalities of the people who built the China Wall and train tunnels. In its day the railroad moved people and products faster than ever. This new mode of transport was responsible for booming business and for populating the west. As one historian put it, the railroad would be comparable to the internet today. Charles Crocker was in a hurry to make progress on his section of the railroad. Government incentives offered sizable rewards for the company that could lay the most track in the shortest amount of time. Facing the problem of getting his project over Donner 168 DESTINATION Nevada County Summit, Crocker wondered if the Chinese, who’d invented fireworks and built the Great Wall, could help. Starting off with only 50 workers, Charles soon discovered that his guess was right. Determined, dependable and with specialized knowledge of nitroglycerine the Chinese proved that they were the right people to accomplish the task. Within a year, 8000 pioneering immigrants were hard at work tunneling through the rock. Granite is one of the hardest minerals on the planet. Progress consisted of making their way through the span of a large man’s hand (14 inches) per day. With wages at $28 per month, these workers were a bargain, even by 1850 standards. Donkey steam engines lowered men in baskets down along the steep rock cliffs. (*see below for update) Holes were drilled, filled with black powder, packed and tamped. Men scrambled for safety as fuses were lit. Once the air cleared after the blast and the debris was moved away, men went back down to repeat the process.

Photo credit: www.Wikipedia.org Photo credit: ww.donner-lake.com Photo credit: Donner Memorial State Park DESTINATION Nevada County 169