Life for the Chinese men on the San Leandro Reservoir
project was difficult and monotonous. They were thousands of miles from
their homes and their families. In an effort to forget their loneliness
and suffering, many of the Chinese laborers at Yema-po turned to the smoking
of opium during their time off.
Opium had been used in China for centuries in the same way alcohol was used in the West; it increased sociability when used in moderation. Its use and abuse, however, became much more prevalent after the 1830s when the British began importing opium into China in large quantities.
A large number of opium-related artifacts were found during the Yema-po excavations. These include opium pipe bowls, copper opium shipping tins, glass alcohol lamps, etc.
Gallagher, Sharon 1998 Opium Smoking and its Paraphernalia. In Yema-po: The Overseas Chinese and the Construction of the San Leandro Dam, edited by George R. Miller. C.E. Smith Occasional Papers in Anthropology, No. 2. California State University, East Bay.