Chinese immigrants played an important role in Northern California’s history, and they definitely left their mark on this region of the country. We see the old rock walls all over gold country, but few people have experienced the incredible Taoist temple in Weaverville that was built starting in the 1850s. It’s an impressive structure that all Northern Californians should visit at least once.
Not only is this state park a Taoist Temple that is still in use, it is the oldest continually operating Chinese Temple in California.
It's located in the heart of Weaverville, an influential gold rush community in Trinity County.
The official title is the Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park. Located at the Southwest corner of Highway 299 and Oregon Street in Weaverville, the state park and temple became an official historic site in 1956.
Weaverville is a little bit off the beaten path, but once you are there the temple is easy to find. The town is located near Redding at the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 299.
The current building was built in 1874 to replace the original structures that were damaged in a fire. The building is called The Temple Among the Trees Beneath the Clouds (雲林廟).
It is full of exquisite pieces that were shipped from China to San Francisco in the 1850s to 1870s.
Unfortunately, many objects were stolen in a 1934 robbery. The state decided that in order to protect the historic site, they needed to have a local trustee keeping an eye on things.
This photo shows a door on the temple with a fading symbol.
Moon Lim Lee became the Trustee after the robbery, and in 1956, his family gifted it back to to the state when it was decided it should be preserved as a state park.
In 1989, one of the Chinese Guardian Lions which had been stolen in the 1934 theft was left in a box at the visitors center.
By then, the state of California had already commissioned craftsmen in China to make a new pair of dogs to replace the lions, but everyone was still glad to see one of the originals resurface!
Much of the other material on display inside the temple includes temple equipment, objects of Chinese art, mining tools, and weapons used in the 1854 Tong War.
Each year, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, a lion dance is performed here at the temple. The dance is also performed on every Fourth of July weekend.
The park itself is beautiful any time of year and Northern Californians are lucky to have such a well preserved historic and multicultural spot right here in our region. Half hour tours of the temple at offered at the affordable price of only $4 a person.
The interior of the temple remains the same as it looked when it was built, although safety railings and electric lights have been added. On the grounds, there is a recently added parking lot, visitors center, and reflecting pool. Worship is still practiced at the temple but to preserve the exterior of the temple grounds, no incense burning is permitted.
Have you been to the Joss House State Historic Park in Weaverville? What did you think? If you are interested in more adventures in this region, check out our entire list of
Northern California adventures!