What is the Laws Railroad Museum?

Slim Princess Engine No.9

Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and designated by the State of California as Historical Landmark # 953, the Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site is not just another train museum.

Located on the site of the Laws Railroad station and rail yard, the land, 1883 depot and other buildings, and the last train, were donated to Inyo County and the City of Bishop by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1960.

At the time that the railroad shut down its operations, the village of Laws which had grown up around the rail yard had disappeared. That village has been recreated by moving in historic buildings from around the Owens Valley...


The Mule Museum

muleThe original railroad town of Laws had a depot of course, and the Station Agent’s House at Laws has been there since 1883. It did not have a mule barn. The Carson and Colorado Railroad in fact largely took the place of the mule freighters who hauled ore from the Owens Valley mines for more than a decade before steam locomotives appeared on the horizon. But before trains, mules ruled. And a very good job they did indeed.

The Mule Museum at Laws is the culmination of work by the Death Valley Conservancy and others dedicated to the history of the role of mules in the colorful and complex story of Owens Valley history.  Bishop, “Mule Capitol of the World,” has hosted the Mule Parade each Memorial Day weekend since 1970, but even many locals are unaware of the astonishing and extensive role mules have played in our local history and culture.

 In Owens Valley’s 20 th Century, Mules have hauled equipment and supplies to build the aqueduct to divert water to the City of the Angels, brought materials for the South Lake and Lake Sabrina dams, and hauled construction components for wagon and automobile roads, electrical, telegraphic, and telephone lines. Surrounded by public lands, we have employed mules to build trails for the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, and to promote pack trips for tourists visiting these lands. We would not be who we are without the help of these four-footed beasts...

Locomotive No.9: The Challenge Ahead

Engine No.9


Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site has started the process of the renovation of locomotive No. 9. This Baldwin 10-wheeler has been a static outdoor exhibit at the museum since 1960. Renovation and preservation are big commitments, and our plan is eventually to assess the feasibility of steam operation.

Whether #9 is stabilized to resume static display status at the museum or is made operational remains to be seen. Either way, this undertaking will be a multi-year effort, requiring public support: donations, and volunteer fundraising and labor hours.   We are excited to undertake this challenge and privileged to become a part of the history of this 1909 locomotive.

Bottle House

Whisky, Tea, and Snake Oil...and Fine Dining Too!

The newly opened Bottle House at LAWS is a must-see addition to Inyo County’s Western History. The exhibit in its present form is much more than a collection of colorful glass bottles. The current presentation displays shape, color, and form in the evolution of glass bottles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Changes in the techniques of bottle- making: blown, molded, or combined approaches, are also evident if one knows what to look for.

Support the Conway Ranch House

In 1983, with generous citizen donations from the public as well as support from the private sector of the community, the “Conway House” was ceremoniously escorted to its present location at the Laws Museum, where, for the past forty years, it has given tens of thousands of visitors a glimpse into Owens Valley pioneer life.

But...after forty years at the museum, the Conway House is in need of help from the community once more. A generous grant from Inyo County allows us to begin the process of upkeep of this historic home. However, we are still a bit short of the needed funds for reroofing , exterior patch and painting of this old ranch house.

Thanks for your support.