Eastern Oregon History

display at Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, John Day, Ore.

Aspirin? Not at this ancient Chinese apothecary in Oregon.

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The earthy, wood-smoky scent of dried herbs, the tarnished ceramic apothecary jars, even the black soot on the ceiling—everything inside the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum in John Day, Ore., takes you back to a time more than 120 years ago when this modest A-frame was the hub of eastern Oregon’s Chinese gold-mining community.

Kam Wah Chung served as a general store, a bunkhouse, and a doctor’s office at various times. After the resident physician, Ing Hay, died in 1948, no one entered for two decades. The relics of Hay’s practice simply cured in the dry desert heat.

Now, thanks to a recent 10-month, $1.5 million structural and lighting renovation, the museum and its artifacts are all easier to see than ever. Free. (541) 575-2800, www.oregonstateparks.org.

Photography by Alan Huestis

This article was first published in May 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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