The Ah Hee Diggings Interpretive Site vividly displays the mining efforts of Chinese American miners in the late 1880s. Visitors to the site walk among the residual hand-stacked rock tailings, evidence of the backbreaking work of these early pioneers. Although the miners were prohibited from filing their own claims, holders could sell or lease worked-out claims to Chinese American owned companies. Men would take a second pass through the claims, muscling rock piles up and down 16 acres of the valley to expose the streambed and then using gold pans, rockers or sluice boxes to extract gold missed by the earlier operations. The walls at this site were built by Chinese American miners working gold-mining claims for the Ah Hee Placer Mining Company along a five-mile stretch of Granite Creek from 1867-1891.
Two Seattle youth survey the vast “Chinese Walls” at the Ah Hee Diggings.
Highlights: The walls at this site are extensive and massive, some measuring 15 feet wide and 12 feet high. As the men made their way upstream, they set aside the larger boulders and formed “walls” that ran parallel to the streams. (This is distinct from rocks left behind by dredges since the boom left lines that run perpendicular to streambeds instead.)
With coordination from the USDA Forest Service, University of Idaho archeologist Priscilla Wegars and a team of Passport in Time volunteers excavated the site in 1985 and from 1990-1994. Remains at the Ah Hee Diggings also include a terrace where food was prepared and served, at least one habitation area, and an interconnecting ditch system, the most prominent of which drew water from Last Chance Creek. Over 4,000 artifacts, including mining implements, household bowls, wok parts and foodstuff tins were also unearthed and catalogued.
The site is now commemorated as the Ah Hee Diggings Interpretive Site and includes interpretive displays.