Yosemite National Park honors early Chinese workers with new monument


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif .– A century-old building originally used as a laundry by Chinese workers at the iconic Wawona Hotel in Yosemite has been restored and turned into a visitor attraction, recognizing the contributions of Chinese Americans to the first history of the national park.

Authorities on Friday unveiled a new sign marking the Chinese laundry building in Yosemite Valley, reports the Fresno Bee. New indoor exhibits tell the story of Chinese workers who helped build the Tioga and Wawona Roads, critical infrastructure that made tourism in the park possible.

The building – later used as a storage facility – is one of a group of structures that will make up the New Yosemite History Center, which will tell the story of the immigrants who made the park what it is today. said Park Ranger Adam Ramsey.

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“The Chinese have been an integral part of Sierra Nevada communities for a very long time, and it’s time we started sharing this story here in Yosemite,” said Ramsey.

According to research by Park Ranger Yenyen Chan, in 1883, Chinese workers helped build the 56-mile Tioga Road in just 130 days. The magnificent road through the Sierra Nevada reaches 10,000 feet above sea level and is one of the main roads in the park.

Chinese workers were also employed in Yosemite as cooks, launderers and gardeners.

Many first came to California during the Gold Rush, bringing with them skills acquired in China on construction, engineering, agriculture, medicine and textiles that had a significant impact on the America’s first successes, Chan said.

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She said Yosemite’s Chinese history and their contributions had been erased from memory due to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress to prevent other Chinese from entering that country at the time. job seeking. The law has blocked Chinese immigration for 60 years in this country.

Members of the Southern California Chinese Historical Society, who supported the building’s renovation, said they were delighted to see Yosemite include the Chinese in the park’s original story.

“Something like this really resonates with a lot of people in my generation,” said Eugene Moy, former president of the company. “We’ve been here since the 1870s, so being able to see that has a deep meaning, because a lot of us, often, are relegated to the margins. We are not always seen as full Americans when the reality is. that people have been here for three, four, five generations, 150 years.

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