Visiting Laws Railroad and Historic Site in Bishop, CA

If you want to take a step back into the 1880s, then check out a museum dedicated to a rail station called Laws Railroad and Historic Site in Bishop, CA. Originally created as a Paramount set for the movie, “Nevada Smith,” starring Steve McQueen, this museum has everything you can imagine including old-school farming equipment, emergency vehicles, doctor’s surgical instruments, dental tools, and optometry gadgets all dating back to the 1800s. There were multiple exhibit buildings filled with antique appliances, a school with class photos on the walls, and antique desks, and you could even walk into the train and take a self-guided tour. We loved this museum and here are some travel tips if you’re planning a visit.

What to Expect:

There are several buildings to visit as the area is expansive. Just walking from the end of the railroad tracks back to the parking lot took 0.68 MI, which was around 45 minutes. My brothers loved it and Steven said, “When you visit the museum, it feels like you stepped back in time.” Sean said, “Check out the human skull in the medical building.”

You can easily spend hours here exploring. Below is a recap of my route while walking around:

Travel Tips

Check Opening Hours and Admission Fees: Before planning your visit, ensure you check the opening hours (10am - 4pm most days) and any admission fees applicable to the site. This information can usually be found on the official website or by contacting the site directly. Once you arrive, register at the front office/souvenir shop. The museum accepts cash donations in a little jar at the front desk. 

Wear Comfortable Shoes: The site may involve walking on uneven terrain or exploring outdoor exhibits, so it's best to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking.

Bring Water and Sun Protection: Bishop, CA, can get quite hot, especially in the summer months. Be sure to bring an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Plan for Weather Changes: Weather in the Eastern Sierra region can be unpredictable, with sudden temperature drops or rain showers. Check the weather forecast before your visit and be prepared with appropriate clothing layers and rain gear if needed.

Learn About the History: Familiarize yourself with the history of Laws Railroad and the surrounding area before your visit. Understanding the context will enhance your appreciation of the site's significance and the exhibits on display.

Take Guided Tours: If available, consider joining a guided tour led by knowledgeable staff or volunteers. They can provide valuable insights into the history, architecture, and significance of the site, enriching your experience.

Respect the Site: Laws Railroad and Historic Site is a protected heritage site, so it's essential to respect the exhibits, buildings, and surrounding environment. Refrain from climbing on structures or touching artifacts unless permitted.

Capture Memories: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture photos of the historic buildings, artifacts, and scenic views. Just be mindful of any photography restrictions in place.

You can stand behind the picture frame on-site and take a photo

Explore Nearby Attractions: Bishop, CA and the surrounding Eastern Sierra region offer a wealth of natural and cultural attractions. Consider extending your visit to explore nearby points of interest such as Hot Creek Geological Site, Convict Lake, June Lake, Mono Lake, Mammoth Village, the Alabama Hills, Manzanar National Historic Site, or the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Unfortunately, due to the snow, we weren't able to visit Bodie, a historic ghost town.

Support the Site: Consider supporting Law’s Railroad and Historic Site by purchasing souvenirs from the gift shop or donating. Your contribution helps preserve and maintain this important piece of California's history for future generations.

Watch the video where I walk through the historic train:

Check out some vintage vehicles:

Let's check out the school exhibit:

Walk through an old home and bar with us:

Learn about the mules and how they differ from horses

The site features a collection of historic buildings, including a depot, water tower, and section house, showcasing the daily life of railroad workers and passengers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Make your way into the saloon

Visitors can explore the museum's exhibits, which include railroad artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays detailing the significance of the railroad to the local economy and development.

We saw an antique saw that looked dangerous

We walked into the Medical Office exhibit, where we were transported back in time seeing the surgical tools of the past.

Let's walk through the Medical Office exhibit:

Another highlight was seeing the horse-drawn carriage hearse. The black carriage was the ultimate throwback and it was surprising to see.

Check out the hearse drawn carriage:

We also saw a mine and the closer you got to it, the bombing sounds would take place.

Photos below by my brother:

Photo by Steven Buena

Photo by Steven Buena

Photo by Steven Buena

Photo by Steven Buena

Photo by Steven Buena

Photo by Steven Buena

Laws Railroad and Historic Site serves as an educational resource and tourist attraction, showcasing California's railroading past for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

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Location address: Silver Canyon Rd, Bishop, CA 93514


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