Tom Boo, Hailey gardener

Tom Boo, a Chinese vegetable peddler, resided in Hailey in the 1880s. He was robbed of $75 worth of produce by a mob while selling in Bellevue in September 1883, according to the Ketchum Keystone newspaper.

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series. The first installment looked at Hailey’s railroad-town beginnings.

Between 1880 and 1885, more than 150 Chinese immigrants arrived in Hailey and established a row of cabins along River Street that came to be known as “Chinatown.”

The sojourners opened small Chinese restaurants and planted vegetable gardens near the present-day China Gardens subdivision. They took physically demanding, low-paying jobs in town as laundrymen, vegetable and fruit vendors, wood cutters, domestic servants and cooks.

Mahjong Game

The gambling games of Fan-Tan and Mahjong, pictured here, were popular diversions in Hailey’s Chinatown.  

Chinese marbles

These marbles were recovered at the site of Hailey's present-day Town Center West, 314 S. River St.

Chinese cook with miners

A handful of Chinese residents in Hailey worked as cooks at the Red Elephant Mine and other mining camps near town. This was in part because many in-town establishments, including the Merchants’ Hotel and Nevada Chop House, refused to employ Chinese men. Nevada Chop House owner S.G. Humphrey was reportedly “disgusted” by Chinese cooking, according to the Wood River Times, and ran ads in the local papers stating that “No Chinamen need apply."

Chinese iron

This iron, which can be viewed at the Blaine County Historical Museum, was used by Chinese laundrymen on River Street. 

Ad from Chinese settlers
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