Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site

Near John Day, Oregon, United States

Park Overview

A Chinese medical clinic, general store, community center and residence, Kam Wah Chung gives you an incomparable glimpse into the past. This remarkable site, a National Historic Landmark, is located in the town of John Day, and includes a museum and a separate interpretive center.

The museum was built in 1865, possibly as a trading post and stage stop. This tiny, unassuming building became home to two Chinese immigrants, Ing "Doc" Hay and Lung On in 1888. Both became locally famous:  Lung On as a general store proprietor and businessman, and "Doc" Hay as a practitioner of herbal medicine. For over 60-some years the building was a social, medical, and religious center for Oregon's Chinese community.

Truly a time capsule unique in the world, you must come check out this place!  Learn more about Kam Wah Chung by watching an Emmy-nominated documentary produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Museum Tours

Tours are offered daily May 1 - Oct. 31 and during Oregon's Spring Break. We have two tour options: a standard tour inside the building and a virtual tour. The virtual option allows you to watch the live, guided tour while you're seated inside the interpretive center. Additional information:

  • Tours are at the top of each hour starting at 9 a.m. The last tours are at 4 p.m. 
  • A maximum of 8 people for both tours.
  • Tours run about 45-minutes and can include VR at your request. 
  • Reservations are not required, but strongly advised due to limited space and time. Sign up by calling 541-575-2800.

Interpretive Center

Additional information and exhibits about Kam Wah Chung are in the ADA-accessible interpretive center. The center is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. May 1 – Oct. 31

Spring Break Hours

During Oregon’s spring break the third week in March, we offer limited tours Monday through Friday at the top of every hour staring at 9 a.m., with the last tour scheduled at 3 p.m. No tours 12 - 1pm. The interpretive center is also open. 

Questions? Contact Museum Curator Don Merritt at 541-575-2800.

Effective Nov 1, 2021 – Apr 30, 2022
The Kam Wah Chung interpretive center and museum are closed for the season. 
mdi-white-balance-sunny Open for day use May 1 – Oct 31 mdi-cellphone Call for info: 800-551-6949
Call park: 541-575-2800
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Amenities & Features

History

Once a general store, a doctor's office, a post office, a library and a center of Chinese social and religious life, it is now one of the most unusual museums you will find anywhere. In John Day, Oregon, Kam Wah Chung (translates to "Golden Chinese Outpost") & Co. is a one-of-a-kind property, a National Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1865, the building's earliest customers were primarily Chinese residents of Canyon City and the John Day area who were attracted by work generated by Eastern Oregon's gold strikes of the period. Some chronicles suggest it served travelers as a trading post and stage stop.

It's "golden" era began when young immigrants Ing "Doc" Hay and Lung On bought the building's lease in 1887. Then it became a successful place of business, frequently visited as an herbal medical office, a haven from social persecution for Chinese residents and even a Chinese temple. To Doc Hay and Lung On, the building was also a home they shared with relatives, friends and itinerants into the 1940s. Its seven rooms included two bedrooms, a bunk room and a kitchen as well as its general store, stockroom and apothecary.

Today, the building is a memorial commemorating an important era in Oregon history and the nation, recalling the lives of two men who eventually earned their community's respect as two of its most prominent citizens. Doc Hay established an herbal medicine practice, known throughout Oregon and beyond. Well educated and fluent in the English language, Lung On was a skilled merchant. He sold supplies to local miners, of both European and Asian descent, before expanding the enterprise into a successful dry goods store and import business. He also became respected as a labor contractor and immigration assistant for the regional Chinese community. He had businesses and property throughout Washington and Oregon, including the first car dealership in Eastern Oregon.

Truly a time capsule, thousands of objects and documents displayed within the building yields insight into a significant cultural legacy. Old tin containers and wood boxes filled with Chinese teas, foodstuffs, tobacco and medicinal products still line the shelves. Our archive is the largest collection of primary Chinese documents in the United States, maybe in North America.

Brochures and Maps

mdi-file-pdf-box Kam Wah Chung brochure

Photos & Video