Ricky Leo takes a photo of old stoves in the restored 1917 Chinese laundry building in Yosemite National Park, California, on October 1, 2021. (John Walker/The Fresno Bee via AP)

Ricky Leo takes a photo of old stoves in the restored 1917 Chinese laundry building in Yosemite National Park, California, on October 1, 2021. (John Walker/The Fresno Bee via AP)

An outside view of the Chinese laundry in Yosemite National Park (National Park Service)

An outside view of the Chinese laundry in Yosemite National Park (National Park Service)

A road heading into Yosemite National Park

A road heading into Yosemite National Park

Ed Hung of San Francisco takes a photo of a Chinese laborer at the restored laundry building in Yosemite National Park, California. (John Walker /The Fresno Bee via AP)

Ed Hung of San Francisco takes a photo of a Chinese laborer at the restored laundry building in Yosemite National Park, California. (John Walker /The Fresno Bee via AP)

Franklin and Sandra Yee tour the restored 1917 Chinese Laundry building. (John Walker/The Fresno Bee via AP)

Franklin and Sandra Yee tour the restored 1917 Chinese Laundry building. (John Walker/The Fresno Bee via AP)

Who Built Yosemite?

Posted: January 1, 2022

Take a car ride on Tioga Road. Forests packed with sequoia trees rise up along the way. Beautiful blue lakes flash past. Wildflower meadows stretch away beside you. The road reaches 10,000 feet in elevation. Chinese Americans constructed this road through California’s Yosemite National Park in just 130 days!

That was way back in 1883. At last, Chinese Americans are getting recognition for their work.

How? An old laundry building used by Chinese workers has been turned into a kind of museum. Visitors can go inside. They will learn about how Chinese Americans helped create the national park. The building is part of a cluster of structures. These will make up the new Yosemite History Center.

“Chinese people have been a big part of communities throughout the Sierra Nevada for a really long time,” says Park Ranger Adam Ramsey. “It’s about time that we started sharing that history here in Yosemite.”

Chinese workers did more than build Tioga Road. Some were cooks at Yosemite. Others served as hotel workers, laundry workers, and gardeners. Many first came to California during the Gold Rush. Around then, work was hard to find in China. They brought skills learned in their homeland about construction, engineering, agriculture, medicine, and textiles.

Some think of Chinese people as “new” to the United States. But the Yosemite History Center shows: Many Chinese families have lived there for more than 150 years.

Why? Diligent Chinese Americans used their God-given abilities to help create a beloved national park. It’s important to recognize their contributions to the United States. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due.” (Proverbs 3:27)