In Eastern Oregon, April showers bring May flowers and a whole lot of culture too. Pay a visit to these great Eastern Oregon museums and one-of-a-kind special exhibits opening this Spring.
Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site
One of the most unique museums in Oregon, the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site is a must-see. Begin at the compact Interpretive Center, which tells the story of Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On, Chinese immigrants who built a social, medical and religious center for John Day’s expanding Chinese population in the 1870s. Through fascinating artifacts, pictures, and videos, the Interpretive Center also chronicles the history of Chinese immigrants as they struggled to adapt and carve out a living in the region.
At the Kam Wah Chung Museum, visitors step through the door from modern John Day into Ing and Lung’s Kam Wah Chung & Company as it was in the early 1900s. The unassuming building, which once housed a medical practice, grocery store, library, post office, and gathering place, is pristinely preserved. Small, dimly lit rooms are furnished with original furniture and contain cans of food, medicine, and shoes just where the duo left them nearly a century ago. Look for the pomegranate and orange, an uneaten snack left on the counter just inside the kitchen.
The Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site is open May 1-October 31st from 9am to 5pm. The Museum is accessible via guided tours only. Tours start at the top of each hour at the Interpretive Center and last about 45 minutes with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. Free tickets can be picked up at the Interpretive Center.
Sherman County Historical Museum
The award-winning Sherman County Historical Museum celebrates the region’s proud farming heritage with exhibits devoted to agriculture and one of the area’s most important crops: wheat. Visitors can also learn about the lives of early pioneers and explorers in the region, hardy people whose work ethic and grit have been passed down to today’s generation of family farmers. Kids will enjoy tracing Native American petroglyphs and milling their own bags of flour.
The Sherman County Historical Museum welcomes visitors May through October from 10am to 5pm.
Wagons Ho! at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
This popular hands-on exhibit returns to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City. Visitors can test their pioneering skills by packing a full-scale replica wagon. Spin the wheel of fortune and see how you would fare by walking the Oregon Trail, write some pioneer poetry, try on pioneer clothing, and find out what wildlife you might have seen along the way.
The Wagons Ho! exhibit will be at the Interpretive Center now through July 4, 2016. Before your trip, be sure to check the events calendar for fascinating workshops, historical talks, and other special events.
Elizabeth Farrar is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast living in the heart of Eastern Oregon. She enjoys photography, yoga, reading, drinking Oregon Pinot and cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks. To read more of Liz’s work, please visit: www.elizabethfarrar.com.