Chinese Railroad Worker Archaeology In Utah – What Have We Learned?


Photo Courtesy of CVAS

Castle Valley Archaeological Society Press Release

This is our last meeting for the 2023-24 season. Our speaker this month is Chris Merritt from the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, and the talk will be held on Thursday, May 23, at 7p.m. in the Don Burge classroom at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum, 155 East Main Street, Price, Utah. This talk is free to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.

The talk will be on:

Chinese Railroad Worker Archaeology In Utah – What Have We Learned?

Over two years, archaeologists and the Chinese descendant community have worked to learn more about the life of Chinese railroad workers in Utah. Come and see real artifacts from excavations at Terrace, Utah. During the excavation, archaeologists encountered hundreds of artifacts from traditional Chinese medicine jars to ancient coins. Many of these have never been seen before, and this may be your last chance before they find a home in the soon-to-be-built Museum of Utah. We will share our findings and shed light on the lives of people who played a crucial role in shaping Utah’s history. Learn about the challenges they faced, their contributions, and the significance of their cultural heritage.


Chris Merritt received his Ph.D. from the University of Montana in Anthropology in 2010, focusing on the archaeological and historical investigations of the Overseas Chinese. Before that, he received a Master’s of Science in Industrial Archaeology from Michigan Technological University where he studied the trade and consumption of Mormon-produced pottery in Utah.  Since 2004, Merritt has worked in a variety of professional archaeological settings including the United States Forest Service in Utah and Nevada, private archaeological contracting in Salt Lake City and finally as the State Historic Preservation Officer for the State of Utah’s Department of Cultural and Community Engagement. In addition to full time employment with the State of Utah, he is Adjunct Faculty at Salt Lake Community College and Weber State University where he teaches courses on Historical Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management.

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