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Chinese Miners and the Snake River Canyon Gold Rush
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 42° 35.619 W 114° 24.126
11T E 713146 N 4718963
Quick Description: History sign about Chinese Miners.
Location: Idaho, United States
Date Posted: 7/10/2011 8:41:09 PM
Waymark Code: WMC0E0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member IDIFers
Views: 6

Long Description:
One of a group of signs located on three closely spaced kiosks west of the main overlook parking area for Shoshone Falls.
Marker Name: Chinese Miners and the Snake River Canyon Gold Rush

Marker Type: Roadside

Marker Text:
Gold Discovered Gold was first discovered below Shoshone Falls in the fall of 1869. The find set off a short-lived, but significant rush that drew up to 400 Anglo miners to the placer deposits of the canyon. Mining camps sprang up in and around the canyon as men came seeking their fortune. By late summer 1870, the first Chinese arrived to stake their claims. They faced considerable hostility from many of the Anglo miners and a local ban on Chinese immigration was enacted. In less than a year most of the easily accessible placer deposits were exhausted. Many of the Anglo miners left the area, and the ban on Chinese immigration was dropped. By the end of 1870, many Anglo prospectors had sold out to Chinese miners. The Chinese both purchased claims outright and acquired claims in exchange as partial payment for wages. After acquiring claims, the Chinese would frequently rework the tailings, recovering gold missed during the first processing. In the Shoshone Falls area, some Chinese lived in a mining camp known as Springtown while others lived in small dugout shelters along the river near their claims. It’s estimated that as many as 500 Chinese were living and mining in the area by the mid-1870s. As the ore deposits were exhausted the Chinese miners also moved on and by 1879 most had left. The 1880 census counted only 22 Chinese living in Cassia County, which at the time encompassed all of present-day Twin Falls County. Most of the Chinese who immigrated to the Idaho Territory came from the Guangdong Province of southeast China. Guandong was one of the wealthiest regions in China until the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion bankrupted the province. The resulting economic turmoil led many to seek opportunities far from home. Chinese immigrants were drawn to America by the hopes of striking it rich in the gold fields or by the lure of steady pay helping build railroads across the American West. Average pay on a railroad construction gang was $32.50 a month. The need for cheap labor caused the U.S. government to encourage immigration with a treaty permitting unrestricted immigration from China in 1868. However following the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the Chinese came to be seen as competition by American workers, including Anglo-American gold miners. U.S. political forces responded by enacting the Chinese Exclusion Treaty in 1880, which limited immigration. Two years later Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited immigration from China and restricted the naturalization of Chinese immigrants already in the United States. Between 1881 and 1882, the number of immigrants from China to the United States dropped from 40,000 to 23. Life in the Gold Fields The Chinese miners quickly adapted to life on the frontier, adopting many attributes of Anglo culture, yet at the same time preserving aspects of their own way of life. With the increasing Chinese population came a demand for Chinese trade goods. These arrived in Seattle by ship and were loaded onto freight wagons that transported them to Idaho. Archaeological excavations at Chinese mining sites have found imported rice bowls, ginger jars, soy sauce pots, and woks. Chinese miners also developed a taste for Anglo products such as Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce and various medicinal elixirs. By 1870, Idaho Territory had the largest Chinese population per capita in the nation. The Chinese made up nearly 30 percent of the 15,000 people living in the territory and accounted for 58 percent of those listed as miners. With the decline of profitable placer mining between 1880 and 1900, most Chinese left the Shoshone Falls area. While many returned to China, others relocated to larger cities such as Boston, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. Although their stay was brief, the Chinese miners of the Snake River Canyon contributed significantly to the economy and development of south-central Idaho.


County: Twin Falls

City: Twin Falls

Group Responsible for Placement: CIty of Twin Falls

Date Dedicated: Not listed

Marker Number: Not listed

Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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The_Simpsons visited Chinese Miners and the Snake River Canyon Gold Rush 11/30/2011 The_Simpsons visited it
Volcanoguy visited Chinese Miners and the Snake River Canyon Gold Rush 9/23/2010 Volcanoguy visited it

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