Eugene Poilane (portrait)

Eugène Poilane first passed through what became Khe Sanh village in 1918, when it consisted of only one house, that of the engineer supervising construction of Colonial Route 9, the first metaled road to Laos. Like the Americans who followed, he was captivated by the lush vegetation and thought the red soil as fine as anything in Tuscany.

He returned in 1926 to start a coffee plantation, importing chiaricoffee trees and tending them for the ten years they need to become productive.