The Associated Press
Yosemite National Park, Calif. (AP) — A century-old building originally used as a laundry by Chinese workers at Yosemite’s iconic Wawona Hotel has been restored and turned into a visitor’s attraction, a national park for Chinese Americans. Recognizes contributions to the early history of history. park
Officials unveiled a new sign marking the Chinese Laundry Building in Yosemite Valley on Friday, reports the Fresno Bee. New exhibits inside tell the story of the Chinese workers who helped build Tioga Road and Wawona Road, the critical infrastructure that made tourism in the park possible.
The building – later used as a storage facility – is part of a group of structures that will make up the new Yosemite History Center, telling the history of the immigrants who made the park what it is today, said park ranger Adam Ramsey.
“Chinese people have been a huge part of communities in the Sierra Nevada for a really long time, and it’s about time we start sharing that history in Yosemite,” Ramsey said.
In 1883 Chinese workers helped build the 56-mile (90-kilometre) Tioga Road in just 130 days, according to research conducted by park ranger Yennian Chan. The stunning route in the Sierra Nevada reaches 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in elevation and serves as one of the park’s main roads.
Chinese workers were also employed in Yosemite as cooks, laundry workers, and gardeners.
Chan said that many people came to California for the first time during the Gold Rush, bringing with them the skills learned in China about construction, engineering, agriculture, medicine and textiles that had a significant impact on America’s early success.
She said that Yosemite’s Chinese history and their contributions were erased from memory because of the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress to prevent any Chinese from entering this country in search of work. The law blocked Chinese immigration to this country for 60 years.
Members of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, who supported the renovation of the building, said they were pleased to see Yosemite incorporate the Chinese into the park’s origin story.
“Something like this really resonates with a lot of people in my generation,” said Eugene Moy, the society’s former president. “We’ve been here since the 1870s, so there’s deep meaning to being able to see it, as many of us, often, are marginalized. We’re not always treated as full Americans when the reality is that People have been here for three, four, five generations, 150 years.