Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

SOU, CHIN LIN (1837-1894)

One would have trouble explaining "westward expansion" to Chin Lin Sou. Chin was a Cantonese immigrant in his twenties when he came to San Francisco in the early 1860s fleeing the bloody civil war that started with the T'ai P'ing Rebellion of 1850. By 1864 the Central Pacific Railroad's Charles Crocker employed hundreds of overseas Chinese workers. "Crocker's Pets," as they were called, blasted grades and cuts through Donner Pass in the Sierras and on across Utah's Great Basin. From that memorable time in his life, Chin's "frontier" pushed east rather than west.

Following the driving of the "golden spike" at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, on May 10, 1869, Chin Lin Sou found himself in the employ of Gen. Grenville Dodge's Union Pacific Railroad, working to bring its tracks up to government standards. This opportunity brought him across the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains of Nebraska. In 1870 a group of Denver businessmen, including H. A. W. Loveland, financed the construction of the Denver Pacific Railroad, a north–south line connecting Denver and Colorado to the transcontinental trunk line at Cheyenne, Wyoming. Chin served as a foreman of the Chinese labor crew that brought the project in under budget.

Chin Lin Sou stayed in Colorado, locating in Central City, where he made modest profits in mining investments. Sometime in the late 1870s he was financially able to bring his family from China. They settled in Denver where, by 1880, he operated several businesses. He likely witnessed the terrible "Hop Alley" riots on October 31, 1880, when irate white residents burned and pillaged the Chinese neighborhood of downtown Denver along 18th and Lawrence Streets. Chin died in 1894 a pillar of Denver's Chinese community. He was buried in the city's Riverside Cemetery. Today a stained-glass window portrait in the Colorado state capitol commemorates Chin Lin Sou as Colorado's leading Asian pioneer leader.

See also CITIES AND TOWNS: Denver, Colorado.

John H. Monnett Metropolitan State College of Denver

Melrose Francis. "Rocky Mountain Memories." Rocky Mountain News, May 20, 1984.

Monnett, John H., and Michael McCarthy. Colorado Profiles: Men and Women Who Shaped the Centennial State. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1996.

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