Chinatown (site)

56. Winnemucca Chinatown

85 E. 5th Street

Vicinity of Baud Street

Winnemucca’s Chinatown is primarily remembered as having been located along Baud Street, in the vicinity of what is now the Humboldt County Library. However, originally there were at least three Chinese communities in Winnemucca, each separate with their own ideals and values—one along Bridge Street across from the courthouse, one near the Humboldt River on Second Street, and one along the path of the Humboldt Canal west of the courthouse. (These groups or like-minded social classes were often referred to in the United States as “Tongs” and they typically did not see eye-to-eye.) The people of Winnemucca did not like the Chinese being on Bridge Street and lobbied to have them moved. As a result, in 1873, D.H. Haskell, agent for Central Pacific Railroad, arranged for them a lease on a section of land along what was Cross Creek, one block behind their original location. (Today, we know Cross Creek as Water Canyon Creek.) 

By 1876, all three Chinatowns had convened into one on Baud Street. It was a true community with houses, stores, gardens, and by 1886 a building dedicated for use as a community center/religious temple known as a Joss House. The Humboldt Star Newspaper described the opening of the Joss House in their December 9, 1886 edition: “The Chinese are completing a new Joss House, which is intended for the double purpose of a place to worship and lodge room for the meetings of the secret society called “Chinese Masons”. Last evening it was partly illuminated with Chinese lanterns and several white persons visited the place. At one o’clock this morning it was dedicated by the firing of bombs and crackers, the beating of gongs and drums and the clanging of cymbals, making a din that seemed loud and discordant enough to accomplish that which it was intended for, that is, frighten the evil spirit away.” The Joss House was reconstructed in 1902 out of brick. Today the site is home to the Winnemucca Masonic Lodge.  

Humboldt Museum has a few items from Winnemucca's Chinatown including several prayer boards from the Joss House as well as a record board of money collected to build the brick Joss House in 1902. 

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