Crossing: A Chinese Family Railroad Novel

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Crossing is a vividly human re-imagining of the love, sacrifices, and history that laid tracks for the North America of today. Leaving behind ancestral Chinese homelands and their family, brothers Yang and Lee face harrowing challenges as they join countless immigrants seeking a better life in the 1860s.


This story follows their remarkable journey across the ocean to San Francisco, then into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where they’ll labor to build the Transcontinental Railroad.


Surrounded by California’s new marvels, and carrying their cultural traditions in their hearts, Yang and Lee find themselves in precarious situations. Their passions, struggles, dreams, and bravery create ripple effects for generations.

Locations: Panyu District China and California; camps at Newcastle, Auburn, Colfax, Cape Horn, Dutch Flat, Alta, Cisco, Donner Summit, Donner Summit Tunnel #6, and Coburn’s Station (Truckee).

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Writing Style

The novel style is a blending of Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), and Nyla K. (Serpent in White).

A language algorithm has compared the author’s voice and tone to Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie) and Lisa Jackson (Deep Freeze).

Features

  • Rich cultural details and cinematic depictions of mid-nineteenth-century life in Southern China and Northern California.
  • Placer and Nevada County Locations

Yang and Lee take part in events that really happened (Chinese New Year & the Hungry Ghost Festival) in actual places (Auburn, Dutch Flat, Nevada City, Dutch Flat, Cobern’s Station / Truckee, and Tunnel #6 at Donner Summit).

  • Published Newspaper Snippets. 

[Sample.] Dutch Flat Enquirer | August 18, 166
The Railroad Company are now working day and night shifts on the line of their road above here, and it is stated that the night shifts accomplish more, with far less discomfort, than those that are compelled to work and swelter in the sunshine, which is hot enough just about now to give a thick beefsteak a decent broil.

  • Animal Vignettes illustrate other living beings observing, benefitting, and perishing from Transcontinental railroad building activities.
  • A research Resource List that includes books, documentaries, videos, podcasts, and websites.

Support Non-Profits Working to Preserve Chinese Culture and History

Donate to Chinese Historical Society of America

Donate to the 1882 Foundation

Working to preserve Chinese culture, history, and civil rights.

Become a member or make a donation to the Donner Summit Historical Society

Donate to Placer Sierra Railroad Heritage Society

Preserving Railroad History – Donner Pass Route of the Transcontinental Railroad

Crossing Bonus Materials