Bitter Strength by Edward Fraughton



27 ½ inches high

Bronze sculpture of a male figure holding a sledge hammer. The figure wears a hat, braid, open shirt and stands on two railroad ties looking down toward the right shoulder. 

Largely ignored in American history were the Chinese emigrants who migrated into California to labor in the gold fields, farming, restaurant and laundry service businesses. Deeply maligned, ill-treated and persecuted, the Chinese proved themselves to be excellent workers for carrying out the Central Pacific Railroad Company's western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad contract. Starting eastward from Sacramento, California to meet up with the Union Pacific tracks at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory, they filled deep ravines by hand using only two-wheeled handcarts, built a series of massive wooden trestles and constructed mile after mile of tough wood snow sheds to protect trains from avalanches. Aditionally, they hacked and blasted fifteen 30-foot high tunnels through solid granite high Sierras; some are still being used
today. Once asked by a Chinese man if the sculptor knew what the word “Coolie” meant, he was told the closest translation in Mandarin would be: “bitter strength,” a perfect title for what this piece of sculpture represents.