Lyle Wirtanen

Lyle Wirtanen, former Historical Museum director and recipient of the Esto Perpetua Award, will speak at 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, as part of the 20th Annual Fall Lecture Series.

COTTONWOOD -- The 20th Annual Historical Museum at St. Gertrude Fall Lecture Series continues with presentations at both 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, with Lyle Wirtanen, who will present “Chinese in Idaho.”

Nearly 300,000 Chinese, mostly men, immigrated to the U.S. after the California gold rush. Some helped construct transcontinental railroads. Most were miners or served mining communities as packers, cooks, doctors, launderers, and gardeners. Virtually every Idaho mining community had a large Chinese population, as did supply centers like Lewiston.

Historian Wirtanen will present a general history of the Chinese presence in the region including the massacre of 34 Chinese miners in Hells Canyon. He will also show a 28-minute video produced by Oregon Public Television about the Chinese in the Northwest. Wirtanen was involved with education for 33 years. He served as director of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude for 11 years (2000 to 2010) and is a past recipient of the Esto Perpetua Award for distinguished service to Idaho history.

The series will conclude on Oct. 24 with Keith Petersen and “Straight Lines and Squiggles: How Idaho Got that Weird Shape.”

These events provide insights into the history of our region and are held on Thursdays during the month of October with the support of the Idaho Humanities Council. Light refreshments are provided. The events are held in the Johanna Room at Spirit Center at the Monastery of St. Gertrude located at 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood. Learn more at or call 208-962-2054.

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