Crossings: A Chinese Railroad Odyssey on Donner Summit

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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).


Leaving young wives, children, and their parents in China’s Panyu District, brothers, Yang and Lee, sail across the Pacific Ocean, land in San Francisco, and make their way to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to work on building the western portion of the Central Pacific Railroad.

Hand-drilling through granite and extreme weather cause hazardous and miserable living conditions.

For two grueling years, Yang and Lee survive exhaustion, loneliness, terror, and accidents, in all-male camps. Despite the hardships, each brother discovers ways to cope. Vigorous forms of recreation and romance are choices they make.

Yang and Lee’s California experience significantly change the family for decades.


  • 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 headlines. 

[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.

  • Animals, illustrating the human effect on their environment, tell their own abbreviated stories.

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