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Chinese Mining History Tour

  • 116 Northwest Bridge Street John Day, OR, 97845 United States (map)

The discovery of gold in 1862 brought miners and entrepreneurs from around the world to the upper John Day River in the southern Blue Mountains. The first Chinese miners arrived soon after, and by 1870 they accounted for 70% of the miners. Many mining towns in eastern Oregon had an associated “Chinatown,” one of the largest was in John Day. 

The Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day includes the last remaining Chinatown building and thousands of associated artifacts. This National Historic Landmark is one of the best preserved structures from any frontier-era Chinatown in North America. 

We will begin our adventure with a guided tour of the Kam Wah
Chung building in John Day to learn about life in a turn of the century Chinatown. Next, we will drive an hour through the John Day valley to Chinese gold mining sites in the mountains of the Malheur National Forest. There we will go on short hikes through the mining landscape to see how the miners harnessed water through a system of ditches and reservoirs to reach the gold hidden in ancient river beds. Artifacts from the mining sites will be available to examine. 

For more information about this event, please contact Genevieve Perdue at genevieve@bmlt.org

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Your Hosts

Don Hann, Malheur National Forest

Katee Withee, Malheur National Forest

Don Merritt, Oregon State Parks

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Suitability: Open to ages 10+.

Difficulty: Involves walking on

uneven terrain for 2+ miles.

Things to Bring:Sturdy walking shoes, hat with a brim, sunglasses and sunscreen, sack lunch, re llablewater bottle, camera, journal, and sense of adventure.