Gung Hay Fat Choy from Locke, CA

February 16, 2016

The year is 1915.  You are a farm worker in a new country and your neighborhood has recently burnt to the ground.  You traveled from the other side of the world to start a new life, and now you have to start over again.  Soak that in for a moment.  


That's what had happened to the people who constructed the town of Locke.   Just a hair over 100 years ago, a handful of intrepid Chinese entrepreneurs took on the creation of a new township after their community in Walnut Grove was destroyed.  It became the only town in the whole USA, surprisingly to me, that was built by the Chinese, for the Chinese.  Commerce grew and by the 1920s Locke stood as it does today on 14 acres of Sacramento River Delta land.


The historically charming town is maintained but not completely renovated.  Faded signs and leaning buildings are intermingled with current businesses.  It's a stop for river day-trippers who have heard of Locke's aged town with it's modern bustle.  Yet, as the town's website makes clear, it is not a tourist trap, nor a ghost town.  It's right in between as an honest, quaint, and vibrant town from brave beginnings.


I was lucky enough to finally explore Locke during the week of Chinese New Year festivities.  The 77-degree February day brought out lots of visitors.  I was delighted to find the town in the midst of a decoration competition for the best New Year presentation.  As I walked in to town there were families and acquaintances hugging and wishing each other "Gung hay fat choy," or Happy New Year, and offering traditional treats at the visitor center.  Groups milled about the town as I snapped beautiful shots of the chippy paint and century old modest yet colorful architecture.  


See my full photoshoot from the day: