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General Area of the second Chinatown


Little more than a year after moving across the river fire once again raged through Chinatown, destroying half of the newly built homes and stores. There is no record of any loss of life due to the fire, but again the Chinese were forced to rebuild their community.


Frustrated by the resilience and perseverance of the Chinese, the white leaders of Truckee began planning a way to rid their town of any Chinese once and for all. In 1885 Charles McGlashan formed the Truckee Anti-Chinese Boycotting Committee. At their first meeting they adopted the following resolution: "We recognize the Chinese as an unmitigated curse to the Pacific Coast and a direct threat to the bread and butter of the working class."


They further resolved that all merchants in town should boycott any Chinese who comes to them either for employment or for goods, in hopes of literally starving the Chinese out of Truckee. McGlashan's newspaper proclaimed "Peacefully, orderly, lawfully, let us disperse with every coolie slave in the Truckee basin."


Over the first two months of 1886, McGlashan and other town leaders succeeded in getting every business in town to refuse to sell anything to the Chinese. As food and other supplies dwindled in their community, many Chinese had no other recourse than to leave town. By the end of February the "Truckee Method" of forcing the Chinese away was declared a success by its leaders.


Records indicate that although the boycott leaders claimed to have rid the town of Chinese, a small group remained. In 1886, four months after the boycott was declared a success, a large fire once again burned most of the buildings in Chinatown. This time three people were killed. Officials claimed the Chinese set the fire in order to prevent any white men from taking over their buildings.


Several months later a large water tank that supplied most of the drinking water for Chinatown was blown up. By that time there were very few Chinese left in Truckee.


Charles McGlashan spent the next several months traveling around the state promoting "the Truckee Method" for dealing with the Chinese. Only a handful of communities followed his advice. He lived out the rest of his life in Truckee. Ironically, the 1900 census showed that he then employed a Japanese cook.

Sources: Hagaman, Pfaelzer, Sandmeyer, Saxton




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About this site: This area on the south side of the Truckee River was the location of Truckee's Chinatown from 1878 to around 1890. It was identified from maps and records at the Truckee Donner Historical Society. The building at the right was a Chinese herbalist's shop; it is the only surviving building from the second Chinatown. It was restored several years ago by a private developer and is now a retail store.

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