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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Oregon / Washington

China Ditch

China Ditch Guide Sign

The China Ditch is a thirty mile long canal excavated by as many as two-hundred Chinese laborers from the spring of 1891 until the winter of 1894. A company by the name of Myrtle Creek Consolidated Hydraulic Gold Mining and Manufacturing Company bought land, paid for the construction of the ditch, and obtained hydraulic giants to work the hills in North Myrtle Creek. In the summer of 1894, the company went out of business and lost everything. Thousands of dollars were lost by owners of stock in this company, and many felt that the construction of the ditch was just a decoration in an elaborate scam aimed at stock buyers. Today the ditch is on the National Register of Historic Places. A short section of the ditch is set aside for exploration by the public on what is known as the China Ditch Driving Loop. Four-thousand feet of the ditch is also open as a walking section (rustic, undeveloped) where visitors can take a trip back into the historic past of Oregon's gold mining history.

History

Water just starting to flow through a hydraulic giant.  Lee Creek, 1913.

In the mid 1800s, hundreds of thousands of people were lured to the Western United States by the potential for striking it rich in the gold fields. Those arriving late were often unable to make any money. Some of these people headed north to farm; many ended up in Oregon. When gold was discovered in Douglas County in the 1860s, many reverted back to mining. Some made money, and some didn't, but the resources were there. more>>

A 19th century Chinese Miner From Southern Oregon: taken by Peter Britt

People

The Chinese are the ones who built the majority of the ditch, and that is where the name "China Ditch" comes from. There were 200 Chinese digging the 5 foot deep ditch that ran for 26 miles. The Chinese Miners were hated by the 19th century white miners. more>>

Mining Terms

You don't know what hydraulic gold mining is? Or any other mining terms? Visit the glossary to find definitions and pictures of different mining terminology and mining equipment. more>>

Tour

China Ditch Tour Map

A trip to the ditch can help to re-live the history of the golden years of western mining. The BLM, along with the Umpqua National Forest have set aside some 11 miles of the ditch for preservation. The BLM maintains a 4000 foot section of the ditch as a trail where the public can experience the history of Oregon's mining days. The self-guided driving tour is yet another way of getting to know the history of the China Ditch.