John Day, Oregon
Preserving the legacy of the Chinese workforce in Oregon, the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site features an original building and contents of an early Chinese store and herbal doctor’s home and office. Chinese American businessman Lung On and herbal doctor Ing Hay were an integral part of the John Day community for decades, working out of this building. Dr. Hay administered care to the Chinese gold mine workers, pioneers and others from the John Day area and beyond by using traditional Chinese remedies. The structure was built as a trading post on the Dalles Military Road in the mid-1800s. In today’s John Day, the building is a memorial as well as a museum commemorating an important era in Oregon history and recalling the lives of two men who eventually earned their community’s respect as two of the most prominent citizens.
Restoration of this national landmark was completed in 2007, including exterior and interior stabilization, archaeological digs, collections preservation and interpretive signage.
Herbal medicines preserved and on view at the Kam Wah Chung and Co. site.
Highlights: Thousands of objects displayed within the building’s 1,250 square feet of exhibition space yield insight into a significant cultural legacy. Old tin containers and wooden boxes filled with Chinese teas, foodstuffs, tobacco and medicinal products line shelves as if still on display in a general store. Although many items were imported from China to serve the local Chinese community, you will find a good array of American products, many still unopened. Hand-made Chinese antiques are scattered among the museum’s furnishings, many in the kitchen and bedrooms. One can easily imagine the venerable doctor mixing remedies in the apothecary, which was protected by iron window bars. A wealth of personal letters, financial records and other documents capture period lifestyles and living conditions, both in China and the American West.