Crossings: A Chinese Odyssey on Donner Summit

In editing & publisher query phase.

Crossings is a story of a brother’s bond, survival, and radically changing times.

The book interweaves full-bodied fictional characters and historical facts providing the reader with a tactile, visual, and entertaining way to effortlessly integrate this portion of American and railroad-building history.


David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries

As the American Civil War is coming to an end, the transcontinental railroad fills Americans with hope, dreams of expansion, and world trade.

Charles Crocker (Central Pacific Railroad) needs workers to grade, build, and lay track.  He spearheads Chinese recruitment efforts to compete with the Union Pacific Railroad as both sides race toward completion.

Yang and Lee, two brothers in their early twenties, answer the call.

Leaving young wives, children, and their parents in China’s Panyu District, they sail across the Pacific Ocean, land in San Francisco, and make their way to the mountain.

Donner Summit, and Tunnel #6, are some of the most difficult locations for iron road builders. Workers hand-drill holes and use black powder and nitroglycerine to clear away massive amounts of granite.

Weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains causes hazardous and miserable living conditions.

Blended with the brother’s saga are rich cultural details and cinematic views of mid-nineteenth-century life when industrialization was transforming the nature of work, global travel, and the environment.

Unusual voices are scattered throughout.

Pheromones detected. Females!

Hope on wings.

Resources & References:


How the Transcontinental railroad forever changed the US – BBC