A Camping We Will Go! John Day OR

June 4th – June 10th 2018

Our next stop was Clyde Holliday State Park outside of John Day.  The park was amazingly green because they have all the water they could possibly need with the John Day River running along the parks edge. The sprinklers were going all day long, the showers had great water pressure and as long as you don’t use soap they’ll even let you wash your rigs here. The only downside were the mosquitoes (which are drawn to me like a magnet). They were large and loud and left me with something to (b)itch about! When there is a breeze here, it looks like it’s snowing – cottonwoods are the culprit. So its bug bites and allergies for me. Good thing I’m a sport!

There was a lovely little pond behind the park. JP had fun fly-fishing there in the evening. The fish weren’t big but since he released them all it didn’t really matter. It was just a short walk away so we walked there in the evenings. He made a couple of AM trips too. Nothing like camping a stones throw away from your fly fishing spot.

We went to the presentation at the amphitheater in the park (also known as the ultimate Mosquito Buffet) on Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day. It’s a teaser for campers to come into town and visit the Historic Building and Interpretive Center. It was a great history lesson about the late 1800’s and the Chinese Immigration. Damn life was hard! The building is a bit dark inside and flash isn’t allowed but it gives you a feel for the time capsule it is! The picture on the right shows Kam Wah Chung in the past and you can see by the trees in our photos how its stood the test of time!

“The Kam Wah Chung meant “Golden Flower of Opportunity”and was a general store and herbal medicine shop that operated for more than half a century during a time when there were up to 2000 Chinese laborers in John Day. In 1887 two young men immigrated from China, Ing Hay (an herbal doctor) and Lung On (a merchant and businessman) and purchased The Kam Wah Chung.

100_0947-e1528487838931.jpgKam Wah Chung was the doctor’s office, general store and herbal medicine shop, At times it was a place to eat, play poker or mahjong, and spend the night if you were traveling through.  Kam Wah Chung stayed open for more than half a century. 

Doc would sit in the red chair and have the patient sit on the wooden stool. He didn’t talk to the patient. Doc took their pulse in several areas, told them what was wrong  and sent them off with herbs for their ailment. He offered his services to both Chinese and locals. The super cool thing is that the shop was locked up and sat as it was for twenty years, and when it was opened in 1969 it was perfectly preserved.

Docs bedroom didn’t change over time. In the black case under his bed they found $23,000.00 worth of uncashed checks! Most of the checks were from 1910 – 1930. It’s thought that the Doc didn’t need the money and felt that the patients didn’t have it so he just held them.That’s likely the case since that would have been during the Great Depression.  A lot of the history of this area was preserved because of the records, letters, bills, and ledgers all found in Kam Whan Chung. Also cool is the fact that in 2015 “Doc” Ing Hay’s great grandnephew Robert M. Wah became the President of the American Medical Association!

After Lung An passed away Doc had his nephew come to John Day from back east to help with him with Kam Wah Chung. When the Doc passed away the historic site was donated to the city of John Day on the condition it would maintained as a museum. And so it lives on! 

Saturday we headed to Canyon City for their “62 Days Celebration” (celebrating the Gold Rush of 1862). The little town had vendor booths and folks braved the rain for the parade on the main drag. The kids were super excited! Kam Wah Chung was represented in the parade too.

Even though it wasn’t parade weather – no one seemed to mind too much! Enough candy was thrown from the maybe 20 entries in the parade that the kids came prepared with bags to collect it just like Halloween! We did a late breakfast  at the Squeeze Inn Restaurant and called it a day. Sunday was all about getting ready for Monday –  next stop, Magone Lake. Not far from John Day but new territory!

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