Finding Different Angles: LAPC

Angles are often used in art and architecture and are also found in nature. Here are several photos that show art and nature from different angles.

This sculpture of a flock of birds zigzags down a foyer and flutters around the corner of a building in downtown Bend, Oregon.

Different angles Bird sculpture, Bend, Oregon 17August2019
Bird sculpture

Swallows collect beakfuls of mud to create these nests along the roof angles at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Oregon.

Red, white, & blue--swallow nests 30March2018
Red, white, & blue–swallow nests

Columnar basalt forms when volcanic rock cools rapidly. In this picture, at Cove Palisades State Park, the columns formed in different angles. Orange lichens highlight their form.

Different angles basalt at Cove Palisades Park, Oregon 25February2017
Columnar basalt

The fire pit contest is an exciting event at the Oregon WinterFest in Bend, Oregon. Sparks shoot out of this globe-shaped fire pit. Another fire pit behind it is sheltered by a angular tent.

Sparks flying at fire pit contest, Bend, Oregon 12February2016
Sparks flying at fire pit contest

The supporting beams at the Warm Spring Museum are set at different angles in imitation of how shelters from the past were constructed.

Trails of smoke from passing jets form an angle that points toward a field of flowering corn in Silverton, Oregon.

Corn Flowers in Silverton, Oregon 20September2018
Corn flowers

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Angles

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

We stumbled upon the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in northern Oregon one autumn day . The Center opened in 1997 but we had never been there.

Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Wouldn’t you like to have a river winding across your floor like this one in the entry hall?

Gorge Discovery Center dugout canoe, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

How about a cedar dugout canoe? Some were up to 50 feet in length.

Map of Discovery Center area, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is in The Dalles along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Built in the 1900s, this road was the first scenic highway in the U.S. The highway winds through areas with forests, rocky cliffs, and dramatic waterfalls. We were planning to visit Multnomah Falls that day, but it was inaccessible due to a fire.

Columbia Mammoth, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Creatures from the Ice Age

So we ended up here and a Columbian mammoth trumpeted with joy when he saw us. We stayed out of the way of his 16-foot long tusks. We found another interesting critter close by.

Dire wolf display, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Did you know that there were once dire wolves in Oregon? Me neither. They were the largest canid to have lived, weighing as much as 150 pounds. Sometimes creatures portrayed in stories, such as Game of Thrones, actually existed.

From cultures that date back >10,000 years ago

Next we walked into a gallery of Native American artifacts. This center features artifacts from Wasco, Northern Paiute, and Warm Springs tribes.

Beadwork and basketry always impresses me. It would take so much patience to create something like that, something I don’t always have.

Native Americans fishing in the Columbia River, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

In another part of the center, the practice of fishing the Columbia River off of wooden platforms is highlighted. Native Americans fished this river for thousands of years but the runs of salmon have decreased dramatically due to dams and warming water temperatures.

Lewis & Clark’s travels

Several displays referred to the explorations of Lewis and Clark.

Lewis & Clark display, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

They passed through the Gorge traveling west in October of 1805 and on their way back home in April of 1806.

Lewis & Clark display, Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Members of the Lewis and Clark party traded with the natives for needed supplies and information on routes. See those strings of beads hanging from the display? Beads had great value as an item to trade at the time.

Butterfly collection, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Naturalists were eager to explore this new land and this display shows some of the winged wonders they encountered. That’s a lot of butterflies!

As the United States expanded its territories in the 1840s and 1850s, more settlers moved toward the West. Lt. John C. Frémont explored the Oregon Trail, camping at The Dalles in 1843. The Army helped map potential wagon routes through Oregon.

Settling into Wasco County

Mock up a pioneer town, Gorge Discovery Center,The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Thousands of settlers soon made their way to Oregon and towns sprung up to support them.

The right saddle

Saddles from the George Lawrence Co., The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Businesses catering to the settler’s needs prospered. Those are some nice saddles!

The Chinese in mid- to late-1800s Oregon

The railroad expanded into Oregon. Chinese immigrants helped construct railways and worked in the gold mines. They brought elements of their culture with them.

Mock up of Chew Kee & Co. store, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Though some of their customs and products, such as fireworks, were appreciated by the largely European American residents, Chinese often encountered prejudice.

Chinatown excavation project, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

This exhibit detailed archaeological work on the Chinatown site that once existed in The Dalles. After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, it was more difficult for them to stay in the United States. Most moved away from The Dalles by the late 1920s.

For some history about Chinese in John Day, Oregon, about 200 miles to the south, read Kam Wah Chung: A Step Back in Time.

Chinatown excavation project artifacts, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Excavations at Chinatown have uncovered many artifacts and evidence of past floods and fires. In 2013, this site was listed among Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.

Gorge Discovery Center. Etc…

There were a couple things we didn’t see on this visit.

  • The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center put a lot of time into restoring native habitat on the 54-acre campus. There is a short nature walk with interpretive markers around the buildings.
  • They have a Raptor Interpretive Program that uses live falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls. They have presentations for visitors on days that vary with the season.
Outside the Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center was a nice place for an unplanned stop.  Lots to see and do there. We were there in October and there weren’t many other visitors. The fall leaves outside the building greeted us in bright shades of gold.

There’s a great fountain just outside the front door. I leave you with the calming sounds of its waters.

Old, new, borrowed, blue gardens: LAPC

old, new, borrowed, blue Daylilies with the Sisters in the background, Oregon 20July2019 20July2019
Day lilies with the Sisters mountains in the background

The challenge for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this weekend is Something old, new, borrowed, and blue. I am highlighting the recent High Desert Garden Tour in Central Oregon.

Something old

I saw many plants I’m familiar with on this tour. Some I knew the names of, others I was like, “Uh… what was your name again?” Fortunately, the plants were labeled or the person whose garden it was could tell you.

Here are some old friends.

Blazing star, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Blazing star
Old, new, borrowed, blue Honeycrisp apple, Madras Oregon 20July2019
Honeycrisp apple
Love-in-a-mist, Culver, Oregon 20July2019
Love-in-a-mist
Japanese umbrella pine Culver, Oregon 20July2019
Japanese umbrella pine
Lacecap hydrangea, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Lacecap hydrangea

Something new

Here are some new-to-me plants. As I add to our landscaping, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting plants.

One of the stops this year was at the Oregon Agricultural Experimental Station in Madras. They offer a ton of information about plants.

Old, new, borrowed, blue Spanish fir, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Spanish fir (in center of the picture)
Pincushion flower,  Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Pincushion flower
Cosmos, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Cosmos
old, new, borrowed, blue Russian flowering almond, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Russian flowering almond
Moss rose, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Moss rose

Something borrowed

At our first stop on the tour, we saw this lizard at the base of a tree. It looked like someone “borrowed” the end of its tail. No worries! It’s growing a new one.

I wasn’t sure if I could come up with things that were old, new, borrowed, and blue but this lizard helped me out.

Western fence lizard, Madras, Oregon 20July2019
Western fence lizard

Something blue

We saw this spectacular plant growing next to lavender at our last stop. The form is interesting and the blue color is uncommon in plants.

old, new, borrowed, blue Sea holly, Culver, Oregon 20July2019
Sea holly

It was a day filled with visits to colorful gardens in Madras and Culver. As always, the tour was very inspiring! Here are some of the things I saw last year on the tour.

To end the perfect day, I won a gift certificate for a local plant nursery in the raffle–for the second year in a row! 😀

Bird Not For Sale: BOTD

Bird not for sale, robin nest in grape plant, Bend, Oregon 21July2019

I was visiting one of my favorite plant nurseries recently and saw a little sign on one of their grape plants. It says the plant is not currently for sale because it is occupied by a robin and her hatchlings. In other words, this bird is not for sale. You can see her with her beak pointed up in the air at the top of the picture. She is one proud and protective mother!

Granny Shot It Challenge – BOTD

Cat in the shadows: Monochrome Monday

This cat in the shadows is my cat, Motor. He turned 17 this month and he keeps healthy by getting plenty of beauty sleep.

Cat in the shadows 25July2019

Monochrome Monday

Birds of the Shore: LAPC

Birds of the shore are common in the spring in parts of eastern Oregon. Why? Because flood irrigation is one of the main methods used to water the crops. As the snow melts off surrounding mountains, it collects in rivers and reaches the lower elevations.

Birds of the shore in Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Harney County basin flood irrigation. Sandhill cranes collecting around the water.

It is released in controlled amounts in the Harney Basin, where 320 bird species congregate. This ancient method of irrigation benefits the rancher and the birdwatcher.

Birds such as sandhill cranes take advantage of all of that water. You can see flocks of them in the photo above and a single bird below.

Sandhill crane, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Sandhill crane

Shorebirds

I love seeing delicate long-legged beauties such as black-necked stilts and American avocets.

Black-necked stilt, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Black-necked stilt
American avocet, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
American avocet

If you’re lucky, you may even see a Wilson’s snipe. Yes, they really do exist.

Wilson's snipe, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Wilson’s snipe

Flood irrigation creates temporary ponds and lakes with miles and miles of shoreline.

Harney County basin, Oregon 7April2016
Harney County basin

I saw quite a few long-billed curlew this spring. I was dive-bombed by one once when I was too close to her nest. That bill is dangerous looking! It can measure more than eight and a half inches in length.

Birds of the shore, Long-billed curlew, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Long-billed curlew

Waterfowl

Thousands of Ross’ and snow geese congregate in this area.

Ross' and snow geese, Harney County, Oregon 7April2016
Ross’ and snow geese

Waterfowl are common in the ponds and lakes. Here is a raft of ducks. This image is a little blurry but I included it to show the difference between canvasbacks and redhead ducks. The pair on the far left are redheads. See how the plumage is more gray? There are lots of opportunities to get clear views of many species.

Canvasback ducks and redhead ducks, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Redhead and canvasback ducks

You may see elegant swans as well. Trumpeter and tundra swans have been seen here.

Birds of the shore, Trumpeter swan, Summer Lake, Oregon 1November2017
Trumpeter swan

Special finds

You will be amazed when you spot unique birds of the shore, such as this American bittern. Keep your binoculars handy when traveling through this country in the spring and you will be rewarded.

Birds of the shore, American bittern, Harney County, Oregon 8April2016
American bittern

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Seascapes and/or lakeshore

Raptors in Eastern Oregon

Birds of Prey Tour

I saw plenty of raptors on a Birds of Prey tour in the wide-open country of Harney County, Oregon last April. We ventured briefly into the Malheur National Forest in search of eagles. Though we didn’t see any eagles, we did get a nice view of an American kestrel.

Raptors in Malheur National Forest, American kestrel 13April2019
American kestrel

We saw immature and mature bald eagles later that day. It’s always exciting to see them.

Some of the wildlife out there was keeping an eye on us. This herd of elk on a distant ridge top watched us for a while.

Rocky Mountain Elk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Rocky Mountain Elk

Raptors were common and we saw many of them perched on fenceposts and telephone poles.

Raptors field trip, Swainson's hawk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Swainson’s hawk
Ferruginous hawk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Ferruginous hawk

Ground squirrels hang out in the irrigated fields and the birds of prey congregate there to find an easy meal. They like to perch on the pivot irrigation systems.

Raptors, Bald eagles perched on pivot irrigation system, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Bald eagles perched on pivot irrigation system
Swainson's hawk grabbing some fast food, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Swainson’s hawk grabbing some fast food

Turkey vultures also enjoy some nice fresh ground squirrel. This one was close to the road and we had a great view of it having a little snack.

Turkey vulture, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Turkey vulture
Turkey vulture eating ground squirrel, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Turkey vulture eating ground squirrel

We were lucky to see a prairie falcon, the only one we spotted that day.

Raptors, Prairie falcon, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Prairie falcon

Mule deer were common. This herd had 30+ deer.

Herd of mule deer, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Herd of mule deer

We stopped in another spot to take pictures of deer then noticed something else in the foreground. Two burrowing owls! Can you find both of them in the photo with the deer? That was my favorite observation of the day.

Three mule deer in the back ground & two burrowing owls in the foreground, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Three mule deer in the back ground & two burrowing owls in the foreground
Raptors, Burrowing owl, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Burrowing owl

This tour was part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Ben Cate, from the High Desert Partnership, and Melanie Finch, wildlife technician with the U.S. Forest Service .

Raptors Pocket Guide

Though I know certain species well, I’m no expert when it comes to identifying raptors. I rely on helpful tour guides and field guides. I have field guide books and the iBird Pro app, but this handy fold out pocket guide is really helpful.

This guide includes silhouettes, identifying markings, and different color morphs. It was a dark spring day on this trip and the silhouettes page helped make identifying birds easier.

We saw quite a few raptors so it was a successful seven-hour field trip. Until next year…

Obsidian Up close & personal

I enjoy visiting Glass Buttes in Central Oregon to collect obsidian. Did you know there are over 24 kinds found there? Here are photos of obsidian up close. The stones are beautiful in color, but also in form.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Detail

Clouds in my sky: LAPC

I can be jubilant one moment and pensive the next, and a cloud could go by and make that happen.

Bob Dylan

Here are few clouds in my sky from the last year’s worth of Lens-Artists Photo Challenges. These pictures were taken in Eastern and Central Oregon, my favorite country. Enjoy their many moods.

Steens Mountain 1May2017
A flock of clouds over Steens Mountain
Winter Walks Art Station 9March2019
Light winter clouds over the Art Station
Unusual Clouds in my sky in Bend, Oregon 18October2017
A brilliant sunrise of clouds in my sky from home
The Road To...Fort Rock, Oregon 10June2017
Puffy white clouds over Fort Rock
Blue Basin Bridge, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Storm clouds moving in over the Blue Basin trail
Many moods of clouds in my sky over my muse - Juniper Sunset 29August2016
A fiery sunset of the clouds in my sky over my juniper muse

Special thanks to Patti, Amy, Tina, and Ann-Christine for hosting the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for one year! Many of us eagerly await the weekly challenge and look forward to seeing all the entries.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A country that’s special to you

Purple Pretties: Friday Flowers

Here are a few of my purple pretties in full bloom in my High Desert yard in Central Oregon.

Finding serenity in a kayak: LAPC

I always have a way of finding serenity when I’m in a kayak.

Majestic mountains can surround you in a gentle hug.

Finding serenity at Wallowa Lake, Oregon 4 June2019
Wallowa Lake

You can pause and reflect on your life.

Reflections at Clear Lake, Oregon 30August2016
Reflections at Clear Lake

Wild animals will welcome you to their landscape.

Finding serenity, Mule deer at Three Creek Lake, Oregon 24September2017
Mule deer at Three Creek Lake

You see things from a totally different perspective.

Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake 9August2016
Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake

And if you pay close attention, Nature will point the way.

Reflection at Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28September2017
Reflections at Little Lava Lake

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serenity

Springtime Cosmos: A Photo a Week Challenge

It’s always a thrill to see these lacy-leaved springtime cosmos in the morning sun.

Springtime cosmos Bend. Oregon 21June2019
Cosmos Bend. Oregon 21June2019

A Photo a Week Challenge – Flowers

Unique Sights-High & Low: LAPC

The Lens-Artists photo challenge today is “unique.” I thought of several unique sights I’ve seen in Oregon that fit this category.

Unique sights "Super 8" Petroglyph, Harney County, OR 11April2019
“Super 8” Petroglyph

Our guide in Harney County referred to this ancient petroglyph as the Super 8. Do you see a resemblance to an old movie camera? Petroglyphs are carved into stone while pictographs are painted onto stone.

Hairy clematis flowers 4June2019
Hairy clematis flowers

I saw these hairy clematis flowers at the Hell’s Canyon Overlook earlier this month. This unusual flower has a lot of common names including lion’s beard, leather flower, vase flower, and sugar bowl. They look similar to prairie smoke flowers featured in a previous post.

Unique sights Great Basin Spadefoot Toad 4May2018
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

I can’t help but think of the words “unique sights” when I recall this toad I found in my high desert yard. I thought it was so interesting that I wrote a short story about it called The Toad Queen.

Pronghorn buck 1May2018
Pronghorn buck

Pronghorn are one of my favorite animals. Besides being fast and looking cool, they are in their own family. They are the only member of Antilocapridae.

Hawk taking off 25February2017
Red-tailed hawk taking off

Sometimes you see a common species, like this red-tailed hawk, from a unique perspective. I snapped a quick picture of this one taking off from a cliff.

Unique sights sky colored by fires nearby, Bend, OR 2July2014
Fire in the sky

A few years ago, fires were burning around us in all directions. Fortunately, none of the fires were very close but the smoke caused the skies to turn brilliant colors.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unique

Nature Walks with Llamas

Llamas in eastern Oregon 13April2019
My guy, Marty McFly

This spring I tried something new by going on two nature walks with llamas. The first hike was part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival in eastern Oregon. The second hike, just north of Burns, Oregon, was to help a llama get certification for the Pack Llama Trial Association (PLTA).

First Hike

On the first 4-mile hike, my llama was Marty McFly, AKA “The Professor.” He was not the most dominant llama there, but he was considered to be the smartest. He was always on the lookout. Llamas have large eyes, much like pronghorns, so they can spot predators.

Close up of Marty McFly 13April2019
My, what big eyes you have

If you go on a hike with pack llamas, they can carry all of your gear. Well, at least 60 pounds of gear. You have to weigh each pack so that they are about even on both sides.

On both of the hikes I went on, I worked with llamas from the Burns Llama Trailblazers group. They have llamas that are trained in packing, cart pulling, and livestock guarding. They train the llamas to do packing from a very young age by having them carry miniature packs.

Pack llamas getting ready to head out 13April2019
Getting ready to head out
Pack llamas ready to hit the trail
Time to hit the trail

So what’s it like walking with a pack llama? Kind of like walking with a very big and inquisitive dog. These highly-trained animals keep a loose lead and they’re very sure footed. Though some are more spirited than others, they have an overall gentle nature.

Movin' on down the road 13April2019
Movin’ on down the road

We stopped for lunch at a small lake and tied off our animals. My llama had been quiet the whole trip, but once we stopped he became more vocal. I thought he sounded like Chewbacca from Star Wars. The reason he was complaining was because he wanted to keep going. Llamas can walk many miles in a single day.

Barn swallow 13April2019
Barn swallows were having a little lunch too

Second Hike

On the second hike I went on this spring, we traveled three miles. My llama that day was a young female named Manzanita. She was going for Basic Pack Llama Certification. She had to walk a three-mile course with 250-500 feet elevation gain. The llamas in this level carry 10% of their body weight.

Manzanita waiting to go on the trail 3May2019
“Hi, I’m Manzanita!”

We would encounter five different obstacles. These would include walking through tight places, moving up/over/across obstacles, and walking at least ten feet down a flowing creek. Did you know llamas often have a fear of water? Neither did I.

Cattle & horses, eastern Oregon 3May2019
The local livestock was keeping an eye on us

Manzanita did fine and passed all of the tests with flying colors. There are four levels of PLTA certification. At the highest level, the llamas walk on a 10-mile course with 2,500-3,000 feet elevation gain. There are 20 obstacles. The animals carry 25% of their body weight.

I was happy doing the shorter hike. My llama companions had a good walk and so did I.

If you are interested in helping out with pack trials, they can always use more volunteers to lead the llamas so contact the Pack Llama Trial Association .

Llamas from behind 3May2019
The end of the trail is near

Pining for Ponderosa Pine: LAPC

Ponderosa pine is a tree for the senses. These trees can grow as tall as 268 feet. Their bark turns an interesting shade of orange-red as they mature.

The branches twist and contort into interesting shapes as the tree ages.

Ponderosa pine tree 31May2019

The furrowed bark has been described as smelling like vanilla, butterscotch, or cinnamon. The bark looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces.

I love taking pictures of bark! See Silent Barks for a few more of my photos.

Ponderosa Pine bark

Ponderosas grow in mountainous areas but can also be found along meandering waterways.

Pine trees 31June2017

Ponderosa pines host a wide variety of wildlife species, including great horned owls.

Great horned owl in a ponderosa pine tree 8May2015

Though young trees are destroyed by fire, older Ponderosa pine trees have thick bark, which can protect them in low intensity fires.

Burned forest near the Sisters, Oregon 2September2015

Trees in burned areas produce cones with more seeds. More seedlings grow in burned areas and in edges between burned and unburned areas.

Ponderosa-Pinecone-15June2019

This lesson will have to end here because my dog is eating my “model.” She likes pinecones better than any toy I can buy her at the store. 😀

Dog eating cone 15June2019

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Trees

Favorite Rocks in Oregon: LAPC

Oregon rocks come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Here are a few of my favorite rocks.

Craggy cliffs circling wonder

Blue Pool 14September2016
Blue Pool

Sculptures shaped by the sea

Favorite Rocks, Pacific City, Oregon 21June2018
Pacific City

Lined with layers of lichens

Favorite Rocks Lichens, Tumalo Creek, Oregon 9April2017
Tumalo Creek

Sharpness bordered by softness

Favorite Rocks Obsidian, Glass Buttes, Oregon 1May2018
Glass Buttes

Painted with pictographs in the past

Lizard pictograph, Harney County, Oregon 11April2019
Harney County

Clustered in concentrations of color

Favorite Rocks Painted Hills, Oregon 26October2019
Painted Hills

Rounded by rambling rivers

Favorite Rocks Metolius River, Oregon 24June2016
Metolius River

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge – Favorite Things

Wild Oregon-Steens to the Sea: LAPC

There are many wild Oregon places and this post highlights just a few of them. The ever changing skies can make familiar landscapes look completely different. Here are some portraits of Oregon’s wild places.

Oregon is an inspiration. Whether you come to it, or are born to it, you become entranced by our state’s beauty, the opportunity she affords, and the independent spirit of her citizens.

Tom McCall, former governor of Oregon
Steens Mountain 1May2017
Steens Mountain
Wild Oregon - the Painted Hills 26October2018
Painted Hills
Hart Mountain October 1984
Hart Mountain
Smith Rock, Oregon 10February2016
Smith Rock
The Sisters from McKenzie Pass, wild Oregon 1August2016
The Sisters from McKenzie Pass
Crater Lake, wild Oregon 12October2014
Crater Lake
Mt Hood 14October2017
Mt Hood
Metolius River, Oregon 4June2016
Metolius River
Haystack Rock, Pacific City, Oregon 21June2018
Haystack Rock

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wild

Kam Wah Chung: A Step Back in Time

The store inside Kam Wah Chung, John Day, OR 26October2018
The store inside Kam Wah Chung

Have you ever stepped inside a time capsule and discovered a place frozen in time? You have the opportunity to visit such a place if you stop at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. The small building, located two blocks north of Highway 26, was, at one time, bustling with activity. Kam Wah Chung, which translates to the “Golden Flower of Prosperity,” served as a dry goods store, herbalist shop, import business, house of worship, and boarding house. It also housed an informal library and post office.

Exterior of the building, John Day, OR 26October2018
Exterior of the building

A Tour Inside

     As you step into the dimly lit interior of the building, you get a feel for what life was like decades ago.

Products in the store John Day, OR 26October2018
Products in the store

Boxes and tins of everyday products line the shelves. Merchandise stocked at Kam Wah Chung appealed to both Chinese and American customers.

More products in the store John Day, OR 26October2018
More in the store

In the backroom, larger boxes of supplies fill the room.

The storage room and a small altar John Day, OR 26October2018
The storage room and a small altar

The apothecary is amazing!  Stacks of small neatly labeled boxes reach to the ceiling.

The apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
The apothecary at Kam Wah Chung

They used many herbs in the practice of Chinese medicine, but also more exotic things like lizard feet, bat wings, and bear parts.  A small room across from the apothecary served as a place to treat patients.

Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung

You step through a low doorway to get into the kitchen. The table and wood stove look ready to serve a hot meal.

The kitchen at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
The kitchen
Close up of the kitchen at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the kitchen at Kam Wah Chung

An early version of a refrigerator cabinet sits in a corner.

Refrigerator cabinet John Day, Oregon 26October2018
Refrigerator cabinet

Religion was an important part of everyday life and small altars, with dried oranges and incense stick offerings, are tucked into various nooks.

Altar in the kitchen John Day, OR 26October2018
Altar in the kitchen
Visitor center display about importance of religion John Day, OR 26October2018
Visitor center display about importance of religion

Two sets of bunk beds are in the same room as the kitchen. Advertisements line the walls and undersides of the bunks, in case you might need to purchase a suit while staying there.

Advertisements lining the bunk beds John Day, OR 26October2018
Advertisements lining the bunk beds

As you pass through another door, you’ll enter a private bedroom. You can’t go upstairs, but additional boarding and living quarters are located there.

History of Kam Wah Chung

     The building was constructed in the 1860s as a trading post, and it was put under lease to the Kam Wah Chung Company in 1878. Ing Hay and Lung On, both originally from the Guangdong Province of China, formed a partnership and purchased the business in 1887. It served as a gathering place for Chinese immigrants who traveled to Oregon to work on railroad lines and in gold mines. In 1862, prospectors discovered gold in Canyon City, two miles south of John Day. In 1880, John Day was home to over 2,000 Chinese, the second largest Chinese community in Oregon and one of the largest in the U.S.

Front of the building John Day, OR 26October2018
Front of the building

Partners in business – Ing Hay and Lung On

Ing Hay, also known as “Doc Hay,” practiced herbal medicine and pulsology. Doc Hay lost his sight, but he claimed he could use his sensitive hands to identify ailments based on a patient’s pulse. Western medicine was in its infancy at that time and anyone could claim to be a doctor. Nearly half of patients treated by “quack” doctors died from infection. Ing Hay served both Chinese and non-Chinese patients and was a well-respected healer throughout the region. He was considered a “municipal treasure” after he used his herbal remedies to prevent the spread of illness during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

Ing Hay AKA 'Doc Hay' John Day, OR 26October2018
Ing Hay AKA ‘Doc Hay’

Lung On, also known as “Leon,” was a well-educated man fluent in both English and Chinese. He used his charisma and many skills in his work as a merchant, labor contractor, mediator, and translator. After the gold rush, he turned to other endeavors. Lung On started a mail-order clothing company and also had one of the first car dealerships and service stations east of the Cascades. He also dabbled in real estate and horse racing. Lung On was a successful businessman and he willed his $90,000 estate to Ing Hay. Both men continued living in the Kam Wah Chung building for nearly 60 years and were considered valued members of the community.

Lung On AKA 'Leon' John Day, OR 26October2018
Lung On AKA ‘Leon’
Visitor center display about how important Ing Hay and Lung On were to the community, John Day, OR 26October2018
Visitor center display about how important Ing Hay and Lung On were to the community

The Chinese Exclusion Act

     Though both had family in China, they never returned to their native country. One reason for this was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Increasing tensions between Chinese and resident laborers in a struggling economy led to a series of laws. The Act stated that Chinese could not become U.S. citizens or own land. Teachers, students, diplomats, and merchants were given limited rights, but weren’t always allowed back into the U.S. if they left the country. In John Day, Chinese could only live in a small neighborhood near Kam Wah Chung and it served as a refuge for them. More moved to John Day in 1885 when the Chinese neighborhood in Canyon City burned to the ground and they were not allowed to rebuild. It was a challenging environment for people of Chinese heritage and they felt safer living near each other.

Note the meat cleavers. Visitor center display about the isolation of Chinese in John Day, OR 26October2018
Note the meat cleavers – Visitor center display about the isolation of Chinese in Oregon

     Chinese could not own guns in Grant County so Ing Hay and Lung Ho kept meat cleavers at the ready to defend themselves. You can see evidence of how they were harassed by observing bullet holes in their metal-clad front door. The thin layer of metal didn’t stop any bullets, but it prevented fire from destroying the building.

Opening the Time Capsule

     Lung On passed away in 1940 and Ing Hay moved to a Portland nursing home in 1948. He passed away in 1952 and his nephew sold the building to the city of John Day. Ing Hay wanted the building to serve as a Chinese history museum, but that request was forgotten. The Kam Wah Chung building remained locked until 1967. When the doors were opened, everything inside was largely intact. Over 30,000 artifacts have been cataloged. The apothecary contained hundreds of herbs, some of which no longer exist in the wild. One of Doc Hay’s medical books may have been compiled 300-500 years ago by one of the founders of Chinese medicine. If the book is an original, it would be one of the few copies known to still exist.

The storage room at Kam Wah Chung, John Day, OR 26October2018
The storage room at Kam Wah Chung

Visiting Kam Wah Chung

       Kam Wah Chung was deeded to Oregon State Parks and Recreation in 1975 and leased to the city of John Day. It opened to the public in 1977. The state took over management of the site in 2004. The Friends of Kam Wah Chung help manage a small visitor center and store housed in a separate building.

Gift shop in the visitor center John Day, OR 26October2018
Gift shop in the visitor center

     Oregon State Parks and Recreation offers free 45-minute tours of the Kam Wah Chung site from May 1 to October 31. A guide must accompany visitors. The guides offer visitors a wealth of information and they obviously enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their talks are enhanced by informative recordings. The tours fill up fast so this year they are experimenting with making reservations in advance.

There are several exciting updates related to Kam Wah Chung. Plans are in the works for a larger visitor center that may include a “virtual reality” room that would simulate the interior of the building. Recent archaeological research at the site has revealed where the temple and other buildings may have once stood. In July, students can participate in an archaeology field school on the site as part of the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project. Malheur National Forest, Southern Oregon Laboratory of Anthropology, and Kam Wah Chung are among those working on this project. The Discovery Channel is working on a documentary about Chinese traditional medicine and they have shot footage at Kam Wah Chung and several other locations. The program is expected to air in North America in the fall of 2019.

Visitors from around the world

    This site is an important destination for those interested in history. It is the best known example of an historical Chinese mercantile and herb store in the United States. Chinese scholars have expressed great interest in Kam Wah Chung and they visit the site regularly. As news stories related to discoveries at the site have spread throughout China, it has become a destination for Chinese tourists. People from all over the world visit Kam Wah Chung.

There has been a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Netherlands. Locations near Kam Wah Chung were featured in the highly popular Dutch reality program “Wie is de Mol?” which translates as “Who is the Mole?”

The dining table John Day, OR 26October2018
The dining table

  I am fortunate that this site is only about two hours away from Bend, Oregon, where I live. It’s a trip well worth taking.

Interesting facts…

Here are a few interesting facts about Kam Wah Chung:

  • More than 90 unopened bottles of bourbon whiskey were found under the floorboards and in the walls, stashed there during the Prohibition. Today they are valued at around $10,000 each. Several bottles mysteriously disappeared during various renovations.
  • Ing Hay’s great-grandnephew, Robert M. Wah, MD, served as president of the American Medical Association in 2015.  The call to work as a healer continues in this family.
  • $23,000 worth of uncashed checks were found under Ing Hay’s bed. They would be worth about $250,000 in today’s dollars. Some think he never cashed them because he knew his patients couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

To view a 2015 Emmy nominated documentary about Kam Wah Chung produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting, see Oregon Experience – Kam Wah Chung. The personal stories recounted by people who knew Ing Hay and Lung On helps to bring the history of this remarkable place to life.

This is a reprint of a June 2019 article in High Desert Voices, a newsletter by and for volunteers and staff at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. To see more issues of the newsletter, go here.

The Daily Spur – Tour