Fiddletown’s Chew Kee Store

Last weekend I joined my photo-pal Rick on a visit to the Chew Kee Store, a museum in historic Fiddletown, California.

The store was built around 1855 and sold Chinese herbs during California’s Gold Rush era. During its early years, the store was operated by Dr. Yee Fong Cheung, who came to America to practice medicine for Chinese miners and railroad workers. In the 1880s a man known as “Chew Kee” owned the shop, selling herbal remedies, groceries, and supplies to the Chinese community. As Fiddletown’s Chinese population dwindled, Chew Kee deeded the property in 1922 to his “adopted” son, Fong Chow Yow (also known as Jimmy Chow), and moved away.

Jimmy Chow lived in back the old store until his death in 1965, and during those decades the shop in front remained largely intact. Today the store is a museum—a treasure chest of early 20th century Chinese culture in California’s gold country.


More views of the Chew Kee Store to follow….

Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2011 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.


About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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3 Responses to Fiddletown’s Chew Kee Store

  1. Diana Jahns says:

    Thank you for sharing these photos and the history of the store. I enjoyed this very much. The chinese apothecary at Columbia, CA, is rather nice as well. Have you seen it?

  2. Tim Messick says:

    Diana — I’ve seen it, though not recently. Actually, I went to school at Columbia College for 2 years in the mid-’70s. Wrote a teacher’s guide to Columbia SHP for an independent study project. All these Mother Lode towns are full of interesting stories.

  3. Rick York says:

    Great job on the interior shot – any photographer would be intrigued by what you captured in your photograph. Makes me want to go back even more. Rick

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