Enjoy these Eastern Sierra tales of bygone days for your reading pleasure.

Hoyles' History - April 2023

Bob Hoyle

Bob Hoyle

A trip out to Laws is always a good time and loaded with fun. When the Brill is running, now that is a better time as the train crew take great pride in sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with all of us.

The next time you venture out to ride the Brill car perhaps you will pass through the loading area and purchase a round trip ticket from a very friendly individual whose name is Paul, Paul Thompson to be exact. Paul is one of our longest volunteers who joined us in 1994, that’s 29 years! Like most of us...


Tipping Points

By Lynna Walker

The last two weekends of March 2023 at Laws Railroad Museum were the quintessential definition of the “tipping point” concept. Visitors from across the nation rode the last few thousand feet of the original Carson and Colorado Railroad narrow gauge track in the Laws Railroad Museum & Historical Site in vintage caboose #401, behind the vintage 1911 Carson and Colorado/Southern Pacific Baldwin steam engine #18.

Few of these passengers had ever heard of Anna Kelly or Myron Alexander.  Anna in 1954, and Myron, in 1996 were two Independence residents who likely never met. But each tipped the scales of local history to make the 2023 Slim Princess Sisters in History 140th Anniversary event possible at Laws Railroad Museum. The Laws #9 Slim Princess Baldwin Locomotive, built in 1909, no longer runs, and is a static display at the museum. Anna Kelly, a young woman in Independence...


Hoyle's History - August 2022

Jay Smart

On Friday July 1st I sat down with Jay Smart, the guru of the mine display, and poked into his past as he is and has always struck me as a very interesting person and thought it was time to share who he is with our readers. 

Raised in northern California Jay went to first thru third grade in a two-room schoolhouse in the town of Boonville California. He graduated high school in 1959 from South Fork High School in Miranda, California. Jay immediately went to work after graduation as a Park Aid at Richardson Grove State Park 1959-1964 which Jay describes as training to be a jack of all trades...

Borax Wagon Mural Installation

Submitted by Preston Chiaro and Henry Golas of the Death Valley Conservancy 

The Bluw-Up team from DVC

One of the DVC's most valued partnerships is with the Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site in Bishop, CA. During 2016, while the DVC were constructing our reproduction Death Valley 20-Mule Team Borax Wagons to appear in the 2017 Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA, Laws raised funds and constructed a dedicated exhibit barn to house the wagons. At that time many ideas were tossed around regarding what additional exhibits might go into the wagon barn; the notion of installing a mural on the back wall was near the top of the list. We just needed time to raise the funds for it. We're happy to announce that this project to enhance the wagon barn experience is now completed.

Early Schools of the Northern Owens Valley

A sign of an established settlement in the Wild West wasn’t necessarily how many miners, hotels or saloons had collected in one spot; those came and went.  The sign of a viable community was the establishment of a school. It represented family life, a stable society, and educated children who would become the foundation of their community. But there was no school to greet the first Euro-Americans who settled in the northern Owens River Valley.

Long Gone River Towns of Owens Valley

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.

Feasting on Power

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.

The Birth of the Laws Museum

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