Laws Railroad Museum is an exciting side trip while passing through or staying overnight in Bishop, California. Thousands of travelers pass through Bishop on Highway 395 and miss one of California’s most fascinating historical sites.
The Laws museum and historical site preserve the Owens Valley railroad town of Laws. The original depot and other historic buildings are a fascinating look into the history of the Owens Valley. Along with railroad artifacts, over 20 buildings plus mining and farming equipment were used in and around the Owens Valley.
Old number 9, The Slim Princess, sits on a few feet of narrow-gauge track next to the original train depot. You can spend several hours exploring the buildings, including a mock ghost town. General store, Wells Fargo building, bottle house, miner shacks, and equipment.
Volunteers have finished restoring a 1927 Death Valley Railroad self-propelled car, and plans are in the works to run track to the town of Bishop and have an operating railway. Take time out on your next trip to the Eastern Sierras and visit this excellent museum.
Laws Railroad Museum Historic Site
The Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site are located on land donated to Inyo County and the City of Bishop by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1964. The museum is operated by the Bishop Museum and Historical Society under contract with those two agencies.
By 1959, the small town of Laws was almost all but gone except for the depot, oil and water tanks, and the turntable. As you explore the historical site, you can still see these historic buildings and a vast collection of mining artifacts.
The gift deed from the Southern Pacific Company to the county and city reads as follows:
“In appreciation of the interest of Inyo County and the City of Bishop in preserving the memory of the Far West’s last common carrier narrow gauge railroad, the Keeler Branch, Southern Pacific Company is pleased to donate steam locomotive No. 9 together with other rolling stock, and the Laws Station building and surrounding installations for safekeeping in behalf of generations to come.”
Laws Railroad Museum is a fascinating place to visit while traveling through the Owens Valley. There are hundreds of railroad and mining artifacts covering the 11-acre historic site—plan on spending at least a couple of hours exploring the museum and grounds.
Getting To Laws Railroad Museum
Laws museum is located 4 1/2 miles north of Bishop on Silver Canyon Road, just past the Owens River, where U.S. 6 makes a sharp turn to the north. Prominent signs at the intersection note the location of the museum. GPS coordinates Lat. 37.401, Long. 118.346.
Open all year, 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and go toward the site’s upkeep. The museum can be contacted by Bishop Museum & Historical Society, P.O. Box 363, Bishop, CA 93515, calling 760/873-5950.