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Rocklin’s 19th Century Chinatown


The Central Pacific completed major construction on the eastbound leg of the transcontinental railroad by 1869, and by 1876 a few of the railroad’s 14,000 Chinese construction workers had settled in Rocklin. Some grew for-sale vegetables in the area southeast of town known as “China Garden”. Many worked at Rocklin’s roundhouse. About 1,000 Chinese laborers lived and worked at the Whitney Ranch building water courses and stone fences.

Rocklin’s Chinatown consisted of about 25 homes located immediately northwest of the roundhouse.

On Friday September 15, 1876 the Placer County sheriff investigated a homicide near Loomis and accused a Chinese cook, named Ah Sam, of murdering three people in a mining claim dispute. Many Rocklin citizens were enraged by the crime and on the following Monday they organized themselves to expel all Chinese people from town. The Rocklin area’s entire Chinese population soon fled. Rocklin’s 1880, 1890 and 1900 censuses show not one Chinese person in Rocklin or at the Whitney Ranch.

For more Rocklin history call 624-2355 to join the Rocklin Historical Society.

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