Before Inyo County existed there were towns along the Owens River populated by miners castoff from the declining California 49er Gold Rush. They were drawn to the Owens Valley River Valley, as it was called back then, by reports of riches coming from its eastern mountains. In the early 1860s miners, followed by merchants, coalesced into bustling communities along the eastern edge of the Owens River: Owensville, San Carlos, and Bend City.
Stories From Laws
By Ted Williams
The tranquil streams of Bishop Creek Canyon belie the powerful economic impact they had on Nevada and California in the early 1900s. The canyon’s ideal combination of water and gravity produced hydro-electricity, creating great wealth for two states and two dominant industries. But practical use of electricity was in its infancy. Just a few decades earlier those who consumed it had to live close to power generators. For miners in the western deserts, that was a problem.
Laws Museum grew very slowly at first, starting with museum members painstakingly restoring the Agents House with authentic period furnishings actually used by the early pioneers. From the mid-60s to the early-70s, members and volunteers had occasional “work parties” to clear the grounds, trying to stay ahead of the brush and weeds. Then buildings began to arrive
In the year 1908 Owens Valley residents had already been riding the Carson and Colorado Railroad for nearly 25 years. But now grumbling began to surface from a frustrated population; the train was on the wrong side of the Valley. The railroad was built specifically to serve mining operations on the eastside, but the population centers were to the west. Residents wanted a railroad connecting their towns, and they were ready to make it happen.