Effort to find descendants of Chinese in LA who worked on railroad line

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The Chinese characters are barely visible etched into the headstones and burial bricks. The markers are cracked and missing pieces that would have completed a name or hometown. The artifacts leave an enticing but ultimately elusive clue to the fledgling Chinese community that existed in Los Angeles more than 100 years ago.

The markers were discovered in 2005 by construction workers in Boyle Heights building an extension of the Gold Line commuter rail. Now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is hoping to find distant relatives to claim the artifacts and skeletal remains of 128 people found at the site near Lorena and 1st streets.

The campaign launched last month is up against incredible odds to find anyone related to the interred — some of whom were buried as long ago as 1885. Compounding the problem is that local historians believe the graves belonged to Chinese sojourners who were probably just as anonymous when they walked the streets of Chinatown as their remains are today.

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