Things to See and Do   Museums


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"Historic Plumas County"

You're invited to experience the extraordinary beauty that is Plumas County as you explore nine museums within this rural area of Northeastern California. Discover how people have lived, worked and played in the small communities of Feather River Country. You'll learn stories of Native American Maidus, gold-seeking miners, Chinese immigrants, timber-falling lumberjacks, pioneer families, cowboys and railroad gandydancers.                                                                       
Plumas County Museum  Plumas county museum, quincy ca
500 Jackson Street, Quincy, CA 95971, (530) 283-6320. Hours vary - call ahead. Admission $2 adults, $1  for ages 12-17, and free to children and members.  

One of the most comprehensive, well presented museums in rural California. Cultural and home art displays are complemented by technological displays featuring agriculture, gold mining, logging and railroad history. In accordance with the "living museum" philosophy, most exhibits are rotated periodically.

Collections include Maidu Indian basketry, pioneer weaponry, archeology and natural history. Outdoors is a blacksmith shop and miner's cabin along with the larger mining and logging equipment, and agricultural implements.

A mezzanine gallery features exhibits of local artisans, and an outstanding archival library is utilized under supervision for research projects. Special events at the museum include the Christmas "Wassail Bowl" and a Summertime Open House, both of which include tours of the 1878 Variel Home adjacent to the museum property. Area literature, histories, artwork and other items are on sale in the museum bookstore.


Historic Variel home, quincy caHistoric Variel Home
137 Coburn Street, next to Plumas County Museum, (530) 283-6320.  Originally built by Joshua Variel in 1878, this restored three-story Victorian is furnished from the museum collection to represent a middle-class family home in turn-of-the-century Plumas County. Old-fashioned gardens around the home provide a delightful rest stop. Open for tours from May through September (call for schedule) and by special appointment.


 

western pacific railroad museumWestern Pacific Railroad Museum Off Commercial Street in downtown Portola, 700 Western Pacific Way  (530) 832-4131. Open seasonally (April through October), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Limited winter operations, call for hours.  Admission $8 adults, $4kids, free to kids 3 and under.

This world-renowned museum was established in 1983 by the Feather River Rail Society. It preserves general railroad history, equipment, photos, artifacts, historical information and data. Housed in a former Western Pacific diesel shop, the museum has approximately 12,000 feet of track and 170 pieces of equipment.

Visitors can climb about an extensive collection of train cars and locomotives and can even drive a locomotive themselves (reservations required). Train rides in cabooses and vista flats around a enamel balloon track during summer weekends.

Plumas-Eureka State ParkPlumas-Eureka State Park Museum.  Located five miles west of Graeagle on Johnsville Road. (A-14 west of Highway 89) (530) 836-2380. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in summer; open when staff is available during the rest of the year. Free admission.

This indoor-outdoor museum within the Plumas-Eureka State Park preserves the rich heritage of the Feather River Country's gold mining legacy. Housed in a restored miners' boarding house, this museum displays mining tools, photographs, pioneer household items, working models of antique mining machinery and antique skis as well as animals native to the park. The rustic, five-story Mohawk Stamp Mill, which processed raw gold-bearing quartz, is among the buildings nearby, which also include a blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse and a miner's home. Supervised gold panning programs are offered in the summertime along Jamison Creek.

Docents in period attire recreate the life of a miner's family and the period on Gold Discovery Days (July 19-20).  Blacksmith demonstrations, mining lore and a home tour help bring visitors back to the 1890s.

Indian Valley Museum, Taylorsville CAIndian Valley Museum
Located at the Mt. Jura Gem & Museum  Society Building, on the corner of Main St. and Cemetery Rd., east of Taylorsville. (530) 284-1046. Open Saturday and Sunday from1pm to 4 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through the last weekend in October,  or by appointment. Donations accepted. 

The Indian Valley Museum features displays and data relating to the rich traditions of mining, ranching and logging in Indian Valley. One room, dedicated to the native Maidu Indian culture, features a fine collection of Maidu baskets. Other artifacts represent the early settlers of the Indian and Genesee Valleys from 1850s to the present. Mining equipment is on display outside the museum, along with a blacksmith shop.  A museum annex features larger exhibits including a 1932 fire engine and dairy equipment. A new 800-swaure foot room features a large display of rocks, minerals and mineral carvings. Rocks and minerals are also available for sale. 

Cy Hall museum, Greenville, CAGreenville Cy-Hall Memorial Museum
132 Main St. Greenville. (530) 284-0927.
Open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to
4 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. Donations requested.

This circa-1877 former Bransford-McIntyre dry goods warehouse is dedicated to Cy Hall, a Greenville business owner and fire chief for over 50 years. The two-story building, one of just a few that survived Greenville’s numerous fires, features balloon frame construction and board and batten siding. Volunteers restored the building using its original 130-year-old wood. The museum has a changing and expanding collection of photographs, maps, documents and exhibits that depict the lives of Indian Valley’s pioneer families.

Chester Lake Almanor museumChester-Lake Almanor Museum
200 First Ave., Chester 
(530) 258-2742. Open Monday through Friday, call for hours. Free admission.
Features a photographic history of the Lake Almanor Basin, including dairy farming, logging and tourism. Also includes Maidu Indian basketry and artifacts.
A compact, century-old steam locomotive known as the "Dinky" is also on display on the Collins Pine Co. lawn along Main Street. The "Dinky" was recently discovered at the bottom of nearby Butt Valley Reservoir during repairs to the dam. It is believed to have been used to help build the dam around 1913.



Collins Pine Museum Chester CACollins Pine Museum

500 Main Street, Chester, east of Collins Pines Co. offices. (530) 258-2111. Open daily during daylight hours, from Memorial Day through mid-October.  Free admission. The museum building is shaped like the original sawmill, which operated from 1943-2001, with solid wood post and beam construction. The museum features information about lumbering, forestry, principles of sustainability, panels of exhibits and a mini theater. An outdoor exhibit of rolling stock retired from the Collins Pine lumber mill features 12-14 pieces of equipment including log and water trucks, a lumber carrier, logging arches and a pond boat.

Jim Beckwourth Museum, Portola CAJim Beckwourth Museum
Rocky Point Road, east of Portola. (530) 832-4888. Open weekends from 1-4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day; other times by appointment. Free admission.  Plumas County pioneer Jim Beckwourth's authentic log cabin trading post and "hotel," featuring V-notch construction. Beckwourth was one of the few pioneer leaders of African-American descent. He discovered the lowest pass over the Sierra. 

Frank C. Reilly Museum
Main Street, La Porte. (530) 675-1922, (530) 675-2841 or (530) 742-6387. Open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Features displays of La Porte's gold mining and ski racing history. Named after a longtime La Porte resident, the museum was founded by the Frank C. Reilly chapter of the Clampers, a historical organization of which Reilly was a member. The club's archives are in the museum, along with local artwork and a "hodgepodge" of other items, including an extensive butter dish collection. 

Williams House Museum, Portola caWilliams House Museum
424 E. Sierra Ave. (Highway 70)  Portola, (530) 832-0671. Open Tuesday through Saturday,10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or by appointment.  Closed in January.  Free admission.
This 1931 log home, on the California Historical Register, was a former residence and gas station owned and operated by a Portola couple, Sam and Ethel Williams. Exhibits, documents, photographs and quilts depict local family history and tell the story of the town's lumber, mining, and railroad industries.

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