Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Intro

Take trip back in time and experience the daily life of the early settlers of the Owens Valley. The Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site celebrates the rich history of the period and tells of a time when the railroad station was the heart of a bustling western town.

The original locomotive turntable

Close to 50 authentic structures on eleven acres are filled with artifacts and original objects that depict the lifestyles of the homemakers, artisans, and townspeople of the period. Most of these objects of antiquity are the actual tools used by the practitioners of their crafts such as, newspaper publishers, gold miners, ranchers, blacksmiths, dentists, physicians, and pharmacists who lived and worked here.

All the historic buildings are original structures. Some, like the Laws Depot, the Agent’s house, the locomotive turntable, and the oil and water tanks were constructed right here and have stood on this site since the first train rolled in in 1883. Others are authentic structures that were relocated here from their original sites throughout the Owens Valley, and restored to preserve the history of the railroad. The section of narrow-gauge track that remains on the site still carries restored and working railroad cars – all of which date back to the early days of the railway.

The land and structures of the Laws Depot and the Slim Princess, as this railway was known, was gift deeded by The Southern Pacific Company in 1960 when the railway line was abandoned and train service ended. The deed was handed over with the following statement: “In appreciation of the interest of Inyo County and the City of Bishop in preserving the memory of the Far West’s last common carrier narrow gauge railroad, the Keeler Branch, Southern Pacific Company is pleased to donate steam locomotive No. 9 together with other rolling stock, and the Laws Station building and surrounding installations for safekeeping in [sic] behalf of generations to come.”

What Makes It Great

In 1964 the Bishop Museum and Historical Society was formed to preserve what remained of the Laws Depot and the Slim Princess. It was then that people began donating relevant artifacts, photographs, equipment and even whole structures. The area and its antiquities have been restored and are maintained to depict life as it was 135 years ago.

In addition to the extensive museum exhibits, the site offers train rides on the authentic, restored railroad cars and hosts many family-fun events including, the Laws Good Old Days, the Laws Museum Picnic Concert, and the holiday Railroad Express.

The Laws Museum and Historical Site is officially California Historical Land Mark No. 953 listed on the National Registry of Historic Places under the Department of the Interior. It safeguards the memories and experiences of a not-so-long-ago era of railway magnates, miners, farmers, fortune seekers, high Sierra adventurers, and travelers who rode the Slim Princess.

Our aim is to discover, procure, and preserve whatever may relate to the natural, civic, literary and ecclesiastical history of our area, and to establish and maintain collections.” — Bishop Museum and Historical Society.

Who Is Going to Love It

The museum is a window to the past that can be enjoyed by folks of all ages and all walks of life. Train buffs will be enchanted by it. Historians will relish it. Kids will love it. Families will rejoice in a shared experience of hands-on learning and fun activities.

The annual Railroad Express is a holiday themed event that happens every second Saturday in December at Laws. It is a day filled with joyful activities and live entertainment. There’s caroling and storytelling, crafts and refreshments, and best of all, Santa and Mrs. Claus come to share the holiday spirit and give the gift of seasons past. It is a marvelous journey back in time that can be experienced nowhere else.

Best Season

Boarding the Train at Laws Railroad Museum

All Aboard the Railroad Express!

Summer is super for kids of all ages and train rides on the old Death Valley Brill Car No. 5 are fun for all. See the summer train ride schedule here.

The Laws Good Old Days, on the second Saturday in September is a fantastic fall family fun day of music, Pioneer crafts and famous pie auction. Wander through the museum buildings, ride the train, watch skilled artisans make their crafts the old-fashioned way, or just sit on the cool grass under the spreading cottonwood trees and listen to the live music performances.

Celebrate the holiday season on the second Saturday in December at the “Railroad Express” with rides in DV#5 rail car, games, prizes, goodies to eat, carol singing, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, storytelling and so much more railway magic.

As always, remember that the weather is unpredictable most of the year, especially from fall through spring. Winter can have lovely warm sunny days, but dress in layers as temperatures vary from inside to outside and can change rapidly at any time of the day during winter. There’s always a good chance of winter wind, rain or snow any time so be prepared for seasonal surprises.

Summer is usually hot and dry so make sure to wear a hat, sunglasses and protect yourself with a good sunscreen.

Directions. Parking. Regulations.

Six miles north of Bishop on US Highway 6, Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site is not just another theme park, it is a beautifully preserved reminder of the small, once lively town of Laws and the railroad station it served.

The museum is open daily:

Summer Hours (June through August) from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

Winter Hours (September through May) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Admission by donation.

Amateur photography, video, and filming during the Museum’s normal operating hours are always welcome. Any other photography or filming requires special permission. The use of any sort of aircraft such as drones, radio-controlled airplanes, helicopters, etc. is subject to rules and regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration because of the proximity of the Bishop Airport. Dogs are not allowed on the grounds of the museum site. The site has many ramps for access by wheelchair.

For more information about Laws Railroad Museum & Historic Site visit http://www.lawsmuseum.org/index.htm or pop into the Bishop Visitors Center at 690 N. Main St.

Read more about the history of the Slim Princess in a previous blog here.

Laws Railroad Museum (Photo credit Ron Nickerson)

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

11 hours ago

Inyo County has moved from the purple to the red tier!! ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Love that sound

Is that a good thing??

Purple..red?

Is there still snow on the ground. So pretty

Doug, Brad....that sound 💙

Shh! Silence!😁

View more comments

1 day ago

Have you ever wondered "what flower is that" while you were here in the Eastern Sierra? Well, this article identifies 5 of the most common, so maybe you won't have to wonder again (at least about this little handful)!

californiahighsierra.com/trips/flowers-in-california-high-sierra/

Thanks, California High Sierra!
Photo by Betsy Forsyth, April 26, 2019
#visitbishop #mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly
... See MoreSee Less

Have you ever wondered what flower is that while you were here in the Eastern Sierra? Well, this article identifies 5 of the most common, so maybe you wont have to wonder again (at least about this little handful)! 

https://californiahighsierra.com/trips/flowers-in-california-high-sierra/

Thanks, California High Sierra! 
Photo by Betsy Forsyth, April 26, 2019
#visitbishop #mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly

Comment on Facebook

I knew paintbrush thanks to my mom and camping trips. Have never seen the iris!

So beautiful and amazing picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

<3

Robert Yanasak

Visit Bishop: Regarding the attached article: Mules are not bovines, they are equines!

Indian paint brush?

View more comments

2 days ago

Please #RecreateResponsibly !!! Locals and visitors alike, we will need to be EXTRA careful to do our part to prevent wildfires this year!! (most wildfires are caused by humans)Fire season already???!!
This fire occurred yesterday and was quickly out out by local fire fighters. Fortunately there were not the winds that we have today (it is currently howling).

Just a reminder to everyone out there that we already have VERY dry conditions due to a low snowpack from this past winter, so please please be EXTRA CAREFUL out there!!! Please take extra care with cigarette butts, campfires, and anything that could spark!!
#RecreateResponsibly #mindfultraveler #inyocounty #doyourpart

Photo by Betsy Forsyth
... See MoreSee Less

Please #RecreateResponsibly !!! Locals and visitors alike, we will need to be EXTRA careful to do our part to prevent wildfires this year!! (most wildfires are caused by humans)

Comment on Facebook

That’s good that the fire was put out quickly!

A FIRE, Already!!?? I wonder how many drivers are "Rubber necking" in town now? Like they've NEVER seen a fire before!!! If you're driving , DRIVE! If you want to look at the fire; pull over and park your car and gawk all you want!

Fire rings only.

broken glass which acts like a magnifying glass. just send the jobless out cleaning up

Beautiful

View more comments

7 days ago

Thinking about venturing this direction? Good to know:Wondering what is open? Here is the latest update:

WHITE MOUNTAIN RANGER DISTRICT

Roads open: McGee Creek Rd., Rock Creek Rd. to the Snow Park, Hwy 168 to Aspendell, South Lake Rd to Bishop Creek Lodge., White Mountain Rd., snow, travel at own risk, Silver Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance expect snow), Wyman Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance, snow), Glacier Rd.(Big Pine Canyon) to Glacier Lodge.

Road closed: Rock Creek Rd. at the Snow Park, Hwy 168 from Aspendell to Sabrina Lake, North Lake Rd., South Lake Road after Bishop Creek Lodge.

Campgrounds open: Bitterbrush (winter ops), Grandview (winter ops), Pleasant Valley (County), PV Pit (BLM), Baker Creek (County), Goodale (BLM), Taboose Creek (County), Tinnemaha Creek (County).

Campgrounds closed: Convict Lake, Holiday, Aspen Group, Palisade Group, McGee Creek, Tuff, Rock Creek, Iris Meadow, Big Meadow, East Fork, French Camp, Rock Creek Group, Mosquito Flat Backpacker, Pine Grove, Upper Pine Grove, Horton (BLM),Table Mountain Group, Forks, Intake 2, Four Jeffrey, Sabrina, Bishop Park, Big Trees, Bishop Park Group, Willow, Mountain Glen, North Lake, Cedar Flat Group, Clyde, Sage Flat, Upper Sage Flat, Big Pine Creek, Glacier Group, Palisade Glacier Group.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is closed for the season.

The White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center is closed, but visitor questions are being answered via phone, 760-873-2500, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am -4:30 pm, closed federal holidays.


MT WHITNEY RANGER DISTRICT

Roads closed: Onion Valley, Whitney Portal Rd., Horseshoe Meadow.

Roads open: Foothill Road, Division Creek.

Campgrounds open: Independence Creek (county), Lower Grays Meadow (winter ops), Portuguese Joe (county), Lone Pine (winter ops), Tuttle Creek (BLM), Diaz Lake (County).

Campgrounds closed: Upper Grays Meadow, Onion Valley, Whitney Portal, Whitney Portal Group, Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground, Cottonwood Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Horseshoe Meadows Equestrian, Kennedy Meadows.

The Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association is operating their bookstore at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine, Thursday through Monday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visitor questions are being answered via phone, 760-876-6200, Monday- Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, closed federal holidays.

Photo by Greg Connor
#mindfultraveler #RecreateResponsibly #inyocounty
... See MoreSee Less

Thinking about venturing this direction? Good to know:

Comment on Facebook

Chiquito pero muy hermoso🌲🌲🌳🌳🌵🌄🌪🌫🌬

Awesome!

Greatly appreciate this update!

This is such a beautiful area!

I would love to move there because it is so beautiful but lacking in basic needs.

Beautiful time of year to go up the Eastern Sierra

Beautiful picture!

So beautiful and amazing picture thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

Please take your trash out with you.

View more comments

Load more