Things to see at Laws

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...

1883 Agent's House Restoration Project

Update: 1883 Agent's House Now Open To The Public

California State Historical Landmark #953, Laws Narrow Gauge Railroad Station and Yard, was built in 1883, the Carson & Colorado Railroad was built between Mound House (near Carson City, Nevada) through Laws to Keeler, California, a distance of 300 miles. Laws Station was named in honor of Mr. R. J. Laws, Superintendent of the railroad. Between 1883 and about 1915, this railroad provided the only dependable means of transportation in and out of Owens Valley. Train service was stopped on April 30, 1960. On February 26, 1964 Bishop Museum and Historical Society dba Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site incorporated and began the task of preserving the history and artifacts of Inyo County pioneer families.

The Agent’s House has undergone several projects over the years: 1916 the kitchen was added, 1923 brought the addition of an indoor bathroom and scullery, followed by the second bedroom. The original colors were oxide red with white trim, Southern Pacific painted the house and depot the yellow with brown trim you see today. In 2010 a foundation was installed to preserve the building.

We are delighted to announce our goal to have the Agent’s House open to the public on a daily basis has been reached.

Skip Car And Headframe Demonstration (Video)

In this video we are at the Laws Railroad Museum And Historic Site on 5-1-2019 for a demonstration of the operation of a mine shaft and head frame. Jay demonstrates how the skip car is pulled up the shaft by a winch powered by a vintage 4 cylinder Wisconsin gas engine. The car is lowered back into the shaft and controlled by a brake. This is a replica of an actual head frame that was in use at a gold mine in Marble Canyon.