Thursday, April 3, 2014

Opium Bar in Tiny Coulterville, CA

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Coulterville, CA is a small town in the western Sierra Mountains, between Mariposa and Sonora.

Coulterville was known for its very large "Chinatown" on the outskirts of the town.  That Chinatown is thought to have included its very own opium bar.

On the Sun Sun Wo Store:

The Sun Sun Wo Store is the lone remnant of one of the Mother Lode’s largest Chinatowns. Built in 1851, the store’s adobe walls were formed of soil which came from its basement excavation. Several inches of dirt were placed over the beamed ceiling which helped insulate those inside from winter cold and summer heat. It also made the ceiling fire resistant which accounts for the structure being one of the few buildings in Coulterville to survive the 1899 fire intact. The store is named after its original owners, Mow Da Sun and his son Sun Kow. It was the largest store in Coulterville under Chinese ownership, filling extensive orders from the surrounding mines and ranches, not just the local Chinatown. The store remained in continuous operation from 1851 to 1926 and the original shelves and counters are still inside. At the rear of the building are storerooms, a blacksmith shop and the store’s office. Strong evidence points to part of the office being used as an opium den.  It is located on the corner of Kow and Main, across from the goats.

The above is mostly drawn from the historical marker nearby. 

There are some older pictures of the place here.

These are my pictures of the Sun Sun Wo.

October 2013

November 2007

November 2007
Now, did you see that little comment about the Sun Sun Wo store being across from the goats?  That is a timeless reference.

Here is one of the goats back in 2007:

And, here is one of the goats in 2013 along with its noisy cheerleaders.  


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