Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site

Near John Day, Oregon, United States

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 and Emmy nominated documentary produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

An ADA-accessible interpretive center across the street from the museum is open daily May 1 - October 31.  In 2011, the center opened a new exhibit, detailing the life and times of Doc Hay and Lung On.

Museum Tours

The Kam Wah Chung Museum will not open for Spring Break, the week of March 23-27, 2020. The park and interpretive center are still open. Please feel free to email or call Museum Curator, Don Merritt at 541-575-2800, Donald.merritt@oregon.gov with questions about the museum.

Open daily May 1 - October 31, 9a.m. - Noon,  1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Guided tours only. Eight people per tour, occasionally we allow extra people per tour under certain conditions.

Tours last about 45 minutes (last tour at 4 p.m.).

Tours start at the top of each hour at the Interpretive Center located a block and a half south of the Kam Wah Chung building.

We strongly encourage that you call ahead to book a tour hour since there are limited slots per tour and limited tours per day.  541-575-2800.

Effective Jun 15, 2020
Kam Wah Chung is closed until further notice due to Covid-19
Effective Sep 18, 2020
Campfires are banned in all state parks, including campgrounds, day-use areas, and beaches. The ban includes wood, charcoal briquettes, candles, tiki torches and other devices that emit flames or embers. Propane stoves and other cooking devices that have an immediate shutoff valve are allowed for cooking only. Locally, park managers have discretion to allow fires in designated campfire rings only if conditions have improved enough to do so. 
mdi-white-balance-sunny Open for day use May 1 – Oct 31
COVID-19 may affect dates
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

Some parks are open for day-use and camping, with reduced services. Check the Park Status Map and FAQ for details. Campfire restrictions may be in place.