When gold was discovered in 1848, it brought thousands of people to California, including Chinese immigrants. In Dutch Flat, the Chinese came to work as miners, for soap root companies, and later to work on the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad.
Chinese immigrants faced racism from those who saw them as "other" and as taking jobs and income from white people. From documentation that is currently available, it appears that the relationship between the Chinese and the European and American settlers in Dutch Flat was less contentious than in nearby areas. However, the Chinese in Dutch Flat still faced racism.
Dutch Flat’s first Chinatown was located at the intersection of Stockton and Sacramento Streets. In the 1860 Federal census of Dutch Flat, 11 Chinese dwelling units were recorded along with 78 individuals who listed China as their place of birth. Their occupations included miners, washermen, and cooks.
Devastating fires were unfortunately frequent at the time, and the buildings in Chinatown were more susceptible due to construction materials, and arson attempts. A fire in 1877 burned down all of the buildings in Chinatown except for the Joss House and one fireproof building.
Since the land that Chinatown was built on was not owned by the Chinese, who only owned the buildings, many residents of Dutch Flat determined that they would not allow Chinatown to be rebuilt in the same area. Instead, they offered land where Sacramento Street meets the railroad.
This became known as "New Chinatown." After rebuilding near the railroad tracks, Dutch Flat's Chinatown suffered from further significant fires in 1881 and 1883, but still, they rebuilt.