International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 666–695 | Cite as

“Verily the Road was Built with Chinaman’s Bones”: An Archaeology of Chinese Line Camps in Montana

  • Christopher W. Merritt
  • Gary Weisz
  • Kelly J. DixonEmail author


Transcontinental railroads conveyed information and resources that fueled the Gilded Age’s quintessential financial and political corporate corruption and related social inequalities. Construction of the transcontinentals required massive numbers of laborers who lived in temporary “line camps” along the railroad grades. A sample of spatially and ethnically segregated Chinese line camps along the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad in the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana provide historical and archaeological examples of the Gilded Age’s pervasive racist mistreatment of the Chinese, culminating in Chinese exclusion laws.


Overseas Chinese Gilded age Railroad camps Northern Pacific railroad 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher W. Merritt
    • 1
  • Gary Weisz
    • 2
  • Kelly J. Dixon
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Burlington Northern Railroad (retired)SandpointUSA

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