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8. Tunnels underneath the Standin' on a Corner Intersection

IofAW 83tButton - ListenIn the 1880’s and 90’s, the Railroad drew many Chinese immigrants into Winslow.  It is estimated that over 2 million Chinese people left their homes and came to the United States to work on the rapidly expanding railroads that crisscrossed the U.S.  The majority of the eastern railroad workforce was Irish, while the majority in the west were Chinese.  The two groups worked their way towards the middle of the country till the Trans-Continental Railway was completed on May 10, 1869.  A ceremonial golden spike was driven into the connecting railroad tie to celebrate the massive work effort.


IofAW 79tThese railroad workers dug tunnels through mountains, laid miles of tracks, hauled ballast, and created traveling laundry businesses and restaurants that followed the railroad across the country.  Many Chinese families started businesses in the railroad towns their ancestors had worked through.  In Winslow, Dan “Sam” Woo opened Sam’s Food Mart and his children opened Freddie’s Diner.  Shue Bow Woo and his wife ran the W. Bow Meat Market & Grocery on Kinsley Avenue.  The Grand Café catty-corner from the Standin’ On a Corner Park was operated by Bing Yee “Joe” Jue.  The Jue family is responsible for many local businesses including Joe’s Café, Kachina Market, the Moonlight, El Sombero, the Entré Restaurant, and MoJo’s Coffee Company/AMG Store. 

IofAW 79bWhat many people don’t know is that Chinese laborers dug several miles of tunnels underneath the streets of Winslow.  These tunnels were originally dug to store supplies for the railroad but became shortcuts between buildings and storage for the businesses above.  They were also used as smuggling tunnels during Prohibition.  Chinese graffiti is scratched into the walls of these damp, abandoned tunnels.  One of the tunnels runs directly underneath the Route 66 medallion on Second Street.  Locals have seen the ghost of a small, Chinese man with a long braid and “old-fashioned” clothes carrying a shovel, ducking into alleyways around the Standin’ on a Corner Park.  When they try to follow him, he vanishes into mist.

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