This pair of rail tongs was used to lift railroad ties during construction. This pair was used in building of Central Pacific Railroad.
The building of the western half of the railroad was a long and arduous process that was eventually completed by thousands of Chinese immigrants. Charles Crocker sent agents directly to China to recruit them, and ended up employing 11,000 to build the railroad. They made up 90% of his workforce and one quarter of the Chinese in the entire United States at the time. By 1868 they were over the Sierras, and the race was on to build as much track as possible. They eventually built across 372 miles after the mountains before joining with the Union Pacific at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869.