Did you know … Truckee’s Chinese population was run out of town?
August 2, 2007
In the 19th century, the residents of Truckee spent nearly 10 years trying to drive out the foreign labor force that had been brought in to help lay tracks for the railroad.
In April, 121 years later, Truckee-area pastors apologized to the Chinese, an act of contrition many residents in a reader’s survey opposed the Town of Truckee from duplicating.
However, there is much more to the story than the economic boycott against employers that became known as the Truckee Method.
In the 1870s and ’80s, the street where the Chinese immigrant workers lived was burned to the ground on more than one occasion, forcing the Chinese community to repeatedly rebuild their ramshackle residences. After a fire in 1880, a petition circulated around Truckee making the Chinatown street a public highway, unfit for settlement.
Some of Truckee’s American settlers formed the Caucasian League, an organization focused on ridding the town of the Chinese. The men burned down several houses and shot and killed Chinese workers fleeing from the burning homes. The men were brought to trial but not convicted.
After the boycott of 1886, where no one would allow Chinese workers to work for them, the Chinese were driven out permanently.
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Truckee was so effective at displacing the Chinese it is hard to find any evidence that the Chinese lived in Truckee. One of the few is the survival of the Old Chinese Herb Shop near downtown Truckee.