Lang Station, located in present-day Canyon County, near Santa Clarita, opened on September 5, 1876, with a “Golden Spike Ceremony” to mark the completion of Southern Pacific Railroad’s San Joaquin Valley Line. This line connected San Francisco and Los Angeles. The momentous event was called, “Mini-Golden Spike.” The new route was significant not only for connecting Northern and Southern California for people and goods—reducing the travel time between the two points from 70 hours on boat to 10 hours by train; but also linking for Southern California to major cities like New York and Chicago via the Transcontinental Railroad completed seven years prior. Agricultural products can now be transported to other parts of the United States.
The construction of the new railroad involved about 3,000 Chinese laborers hired by Charles Crocker—Southern Pacific Railroad’s President, founder and construction supervisor of the famed Central Pacific Railroad that had used a Chinese workforce, 20 years previously. Chinese workers in rail construction were typically assigned the most dangerous and backbreaking jobs. On the San Joaquin Valley Line, that included grading and digging a tunnel through more than a mile of solid granite through the San Gabriel Mountains, which is now called the San Fernando Tunnel, just south of Newhall and a critical part of the route. They used nothing but horse-drawn plows, picks, shovels, drills and dangerous explosives.
When Lang Station opened, thousands of Chinese were present to celebrate the occasion—in contrast to the Golden Spike Ceremony for the Transcontinental Railroad, where there was no recognition of Chinese contribution. Throughout its early history, Lang Station served the former town of Lang, founded by cattle rancher John Lang. It was burnt down once in 1887, and rebuilt. There was a hotel and spa next to the station, and the town had also served as a shipping point for cattle, ore and grain. In 1971, passenger service was discontinued at Lang Station, and the building was demolished. The depot, replacing an earlier one that burned in 1906, was torn down in 1968-1969. Lang became California Historical Landmark #590 in 1957.
In 1976 two bronze plaques were placed at the site, one by the Chinese Historical Society reading: “On this centennial we honor over three thousand Chinese who helped build the Southern Pacific Railroad and the San Fernando Tunnel. Their labor gave California the first north-south railway, changing the state’s history.” The second plaque, placed by “Platrix Chapter No. 2” of E Clampus Vitus, reads: “LANG STATION / On this exact site (or hereabouts) 100 years ago Clamper Charles Crocker drove a spike of pure California gold completing the Southern Pacific Railroad link between San Francisco & Los Angeles, Queen of Counties / Dedicated September 5, 1976.”
The right-of-way, owned by BNSF, remains active with Metrolink. The site is part of a railroad equipment yard in a dangerous area, normally inaccessible to the public.
The Golden Spike site can be viewed from across the Santa Clara River on Soledad Canyon Road. Directions: Lang Station is reached on California Route 14. Exit at Soledad Canyon Road. Turn right to south and turn right onto Lang Station Road. The destination is at 14212 Lang Station Road. On Soledad Canyon Road, stop carefully on the bluff overlooking the river. On the opposite bank, spot small bushes, dead willow tree with stone monument marking the historical site location.
Submitted by: Wendy Chung et al, Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Chinese labor site, Railroad