Yreka’s Chinatown is focus of presentation

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Hear the story of Yreka’s historic Chinese community and get a glimpse of their daily lives and struggles. “Yreka Chinatown” will be presented by Sarah Heffner on Saturday, July 6, at 7 p.m. at Sisson Museum.

Yreka’s Chinese Community is the topic of a presentation at Mount Shasta’s Sisson Museum on Saturday, July 6, at 7 p.m.

Senior Historical Archaeologist Sarah Heffner’s talk is the result of many years of study of the artifacts found when Interstate 5 was constructed through this area.

In the spring of 1969, through constant snow and freezing temperatures, archaeologists with the Department of Parks and Recreation, local volunteers, and college students excavated the remains of Yreka’s third Chinatown, occupied from 1886 through the 1940s. It was a large-scale salvage excavation designed to recover as much archaeological evidence of the Chinatown prior to its destruction by the construction of I-5.

After three months of excavation, archaeologists had dug 73 units and two trenches, identified nine features, and recorded over 5,000 artifacts. Artifacts include both Chinese (porcelain, medicine vials, eating utensils, coins, opium pipes) and non-Chinese (liquor bottles, patent medicine bottles, toys). When combined with historical research and archival information, these artifacts help tell the story of Yreka’s Chinese community and provide a glimpse into their daily lives and struggles.

Heffner conducts cultural resource surveys and excavations, archival and laboratory research, and writes cultural resources technical reports, management plans, and Environmental Assessments. Her research interests include historical archaeology, museum studies, collections research, and oral history.

Over the past five years, Heffner has been actively involved in the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, a multidisciplinary project originated at Stanford University that brings together scholars from the United States, Canada, China, and Taiwan in diverse fields of study (archaeology, literature, architecture, history, and the arts) to explore the untold story of the Chinese workers who labored along the Transcontinental Railroad and later regional railroads.

A $5 donation is requested from the attendees in order to help fund the museum’s ability to “Illuminate the past, present and future of the Mount Shasta Region.”

Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check the website at www.mtshastamuseum.com, go to the museum’s Facebook page, or call the museum (530-926-5508) for more details. The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. It is located at 1 North Old Stage Road.