The U.S. Forest Service and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience sponsored the Chinese Heritage Tour from July 20 – 26. For me, it was a vast scope of experiences. From the people to the locations, the tour as a whole was very interesting in the historical aspect. However, there are some ways that the experience could have been enhanced. To enhance the tour is to optimize the time used and spent everywhere.

Places like the Ah Hee Diggings were excellent uses of time.We had an ample amount of time to look around. I explored and looked at the long stacks of rocks as well as the surrounding area. I stepped over the mounds of rocks and saw the scraps of metal left over. Other places like the Kam Wah Chung and The Wing Luke Museum were both interesting in its explanation of the site and the history behind it. This was one of the best trips I personally have went on. I felt like there should be more of these places in the tour as opposed to other places.

The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was far from a useful site for the purposes of the trip. Not only did we take an hour and one-half exploring the site, but the only things pertaining to our tour were two small artifacts with barely any documentation. Like me, other participants were also saddened by the lack of material. Because of this, a local community member, Bettie Luke, wrote a letter to the Center addressing this issue, in which I and everyone else signed in agreement to.

Speaking of things not pertaining to our tour, there was The Dredge. The Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area was where we saw a behemoth of a gold mining device. Personally I thought the Dredge was interesting and all, but it didn’t have a point connecting to Chinese heritage. I learned that the Dredge was used in large areas in which Chinese people could not claim. However the Dredge did create tailings — piles of gravel left behind by other people’s quest for gold — and offered an opportunity for Chinese miners to follow. The Chinese made their living off these tailings. Sadly, the management there specifically said that Chinese miners were not there. The time was not wasted but not as efficiently spent on these sites, which took time away from others.

The Building at the Pon Yam House was one of the better sites on this tour. Uncovering the mysteries behind certain items found were just some of the things that made me wish we were there longer. They even set up fruit and drinks for us but we left too quickly. Because of sites that we spent too much precious time on we lost time to stay at the Pon Yam and the surrounding buildings. Although running late is something no one can account for.

Tours are better when time between each location is optimized to enhance the experience. But this was probably one of the closest to perfection as organizing can go. During this tour the amount of time at each location was used well more than otherwise. I hope that during the next tour, the participants will spend more time at places of importance while still spending some at other places.

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