Oregon Experience: Massacre at Hell's Canyon

This new Oregon Experience documentary investigates the Hell's Canyon Massacre (also known as the Massacre at Deep Creek or the Snake River Massacre), where 34 Chinese gold miners were ambushed and slaughtered by a small gang of white horse thieves and school boys. One of the people interviewed in this documentary is Marie Rose Wong, who wrote one of our favorite local history books, Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: the Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon

"In 1887, a gang of horse thieves gunned down as many as 34 Chinese gold miners on the Oregon side of the Snake River near Hells Canyon. Some have called it the country’s worst massacre of Chinese by whites. Though the killers were known, and at least one confessed, no one was ever convicted.

In 1995, a Wallowa County clerk discovered hidden trial documents, uncovering the nearly forgotten incident.

Why was the story buried? What happened to the killers? Who were the victims?

'Massacre at Hells Canyon' examines not only the murders but also the hidden history of the Chinese laborers who help build the West in their search for 'Gold Mountain.'”




Bronson, Bennet, and Chuimei Ho. Coming home in gold brocade: Chinese in early Northwest America. Seattle, Washington: Chinese in Northwest American Research Committee, 2015. 

Nokes, R. Gregory. Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2009.

Chinn, Thomas W., H. Mark Lai, Philip P. Choy. A History of the Chinese in California, A Syllabus. San Francisco: Chinese Historical Society of America, 1969.

Nokes, R. Gregory, "A Most Daring Outrage,'' Murders at Chinese Massacre Cove, 1887," Oregon Historical Society Quarterly 107.3 (2006): 326-353.

Portland State University, and Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Dreams of the West : A History of the Chinese in Oregon, 1850-1950. Portland, OR: Ooligan Press, 2007.

Tsai, Shih-shan Henry, The Chinese Experience in America. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1986.

Wong, Marie Rose. Sweet Cakes, Long Journey : The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon. Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Yung, Judy, Gordon H. Chang, Him Mark Lai. Chinese American Voices, From the Gold Rush to the Present. Berkeley: University of California, 2006.