5 Unique Plumas County Museums
October 16, 2018 by: Sharon Roberts
Most people come to Plumas County to take advantage of its abundant opportunities for outdoor adventure. Lassen Volcanic Park, Lake Almanor, and flower & wildlife viewing remain the major tourist draws to the region. However, Plumas County also boasts some fascinating, one-of-kind museums for when you feel like returning to civilization. Add these to your Plumas County itinerary to compliment your trip with a little history and culture. Here are 5 fun and unique Plumas County museums.
1. Plumas County Museum
Plumas County Museum is the place to go if you want to learn a bit more about the history of the region. It is a “living museum,” meaning it features a rotating series of exhibits, events, meetings, and functions in addition to its excellent permanent collection. In the museum's Industrial Wing, you can learn about the history of railroads, gold mining, and the lumber industry. Elsewhere, you’ll find a variety of wonderful collections, including natural history specimens, baskets woven by Mountain Maidu Indians, vintage children’s toys, and more. In the Exhibit Yard outside, wander through a maze of well-preserved historical oddities, including a horse-drawn hearse, water wagon, logging equipment, a working blacksmith shop, a stamp mill, and a restored gold miner's log cabin. Due to severe budget cuts the Plumas County Museum Association is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call for Sunday hours, or for special docent led tours: 530-283-6320.
2. Western Pacific Railroad Museum
The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is widely recognized as one of the finest railway museums in the United States. Established in 1983 by the Feather River Rail Society and housed in a former Western Pacific diesel shop, the museum preserves general railroad history, equipment, photos, artifacts, historical information, and more. In addition, visitors have the chance to climb about an extensive collection of train cars and locomotives and can even drive a locomotive themselves (reservations required). During the summer months, you can take train rides in cabooses around a enamel balloon track. In October, you can also take a festive train ride to a pumpkin patch where you can pick out your own pumpkins. The Railroad Museum is open seasonally (April to October) and costs $8 for adults, $4 for children. Annual Railroad Days in August is a special time to visit Portola and the Railroad Museum.
3. Chester-Lake Almanor Museum
The St. Bernard Lodge is located 10 miles west of the small town of Chester. To learn more about your temporary home and the Lake Almanor basin, pay a visit to the Chester-Lake Almanor Museum. It features a photographic history of the Lake Almanor Basin from Native American and pioneer times, including dairy farming, logging, and tourism. It is also an excellent place to view more Maidu Indian basketry and artifacts. On the Collins Pine Co. lawn down the road on Main Street, lies “Dinky,” a compact century-old steam locomotive recently discovered at the bottom of nearby Butt Valley Reservoir during repairs to the dam. Admission to the Museum is free.
4. Collins Pine Museum
Collins Pine Museum opened to the public in May of 2007 and admission is free. The museum is open mid-May until mid-October, Wed. through Sat. 9 am – 5 pm. The museum building itself was constructed to look like the sawmill Collins Pine used in Chester from 1946 to 2001. It is a great place to learn about past and current logging operations. Terry Collins is often at the museum and has a wealth of information to share about logging practices. The museum has a 400-year-old cross section of a Sugar Pine tree with dates in American history going back to 1607 and the Jamestown Colony. Outside the museum is an interesting collection of old logging equipment to view.
5. Indian Valley Museum
For a small town, Taylorsville boasts an impressive museum. The Indian Valley Museum was established in 1973, admission is free, and the museum is open weekends mid-May to October 31st. There are five large rooms with exhibits of Native American history, over 600 photographs depicting life in the early years of Indian Valley, and much more. The museum is known for its amazing display of rocks, gems, minerals, arrowheads, and mineral carvings. A special time to visit is when the museum is hosting Frontier Days in August. You can make candles, learn to knit, make soap, pan for gold, and just have fun.
Planning a trip to Plumas County? Book a stay at the historic St. Bernard Lodge located in Chester, near Lassen Volcanic Park and Lake Almanor.