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The Madera Tribune

Chinatown had its revenge

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webmaster | 09/20/13

It is well known that lumber was pivotal in both the creation and growth of Madera County. The city of Madera even received its name from the industry. Between 1876 and 1933, lumber was harvested in the mountains and transported down the flume to the planing mill in Madera.

Throughout the life of Madera County’s lumber industry, three corporations succeeded one another in keeping the business alive. First there was the California Lumber Company, which built the first flume and then went bankrupt in 1878. Next came the Madera Flume and Trading Company, which ran the operation until the Madera Sugar Pine Company acquired its assets and began to improve them in 1899.

The Madera Sugar Pine Company revitalized the industry and soon created a need for additional workers. This was met with the influx of large numbers of Chinese laborers in and near the company town of Sugar Pine in the mountains. To house these workers, the company turned an area just below the sawmill into a Chinatown.

In time the Sugar Pine Chinatown had a “boss” who acted as a labor contractor, supplying the company with the necessary workers, who would descend upon the area each spring from places like Madera, Borden, and Fresno. These Asian workers were said to appear “carrying their bedding, satchels, and crate after crate of white chickens. When liberated, the fowl scattered over the surrounding hills, cackling loudly enough to rival their straw-hatted owners.” ...


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