The Chinese Laborers

After the 1849 discovery of gold in California, the first wave of Chinese immigrants started coming to the Napa Valley.  They planted and cultivated the land, as well as constructed the Napa Valley Railroad which operated between Vallejo and Calistoga.  The train was instrumental in the transportation of silver and mercury ore mined in the Upper Napa Valley.  They also dug by hand some of the Valley’s earliest wine caves.  When the railroad was finished in 1869, many Chinese laborers hoped to return to farming, which many of them had done in China.  While some of them were able to buy small plots in California, thousands found work for the next decade building the levees.

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