Aug 132015

We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.

Boulder City: The exhibits and collections at the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum explore the social and economic aspects of the Boulder Canyon Project and the Great Depression during which Hoover Dam and Boulder City were built. Exhibits provide a glimpse into the ordinary lives of the dam workers and their families. The museum also houses an extensive research collection of photographs, documents, publications, and artifacts.

Boulder City Museum

Carson City: Housed in the former Stewart Indian School, a national boarding school, the Stewart Indian School Museum displays artifacts, baskets, pottery, and exhibits on American Indian history.

Carson City: The rich railroading heritage of northern Nevada lives on at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The museum has an extraordinary collection of railroad equipment, artifacts, and related exhibits.

Elko: Exhibits at the Northeastern Nevada Museum cover local history, natural history, local cultures, wildlife from around the world displayed in natural settings, and an art collection. Research facilities include over 40,000 photos, area newspapers from 1872 to present, public records, manuscripts, and a 1,000-volume research library.


Ely: The Nevada Northern Railway Museum includes the old depot, dispatcher’s office, and roundhouse.

Genoa: This is Nevada’s oldest town, established by Mormon settlers in 1851. Today about 250 residents and 50 original buildings still remain.

Henderson: The Clark County Heritage Museum displays historical items from southern Nevada, a small “ghost town” of historical buildings and mining artifacts, a restored train depot, and a “neighborhood” of restored homes from the 1940s and 1950s complete with lawns, sidewalks, and driveways. The homes’ interiors are furnished and decorated with period items, complete to a 1959 automobile in one of the carports.

Lake Tahoe: The Gatekeeper’s Museum is a reconstruction of the original Gatekeeper’s Cabin, home of the water master who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe. It now showcases Tahoe history, from its Native American inhabitants through the logging era and the establishment of the tourism industry at Lake Tahoe. Exhibits include Native American baskets, resort memorabilia, historical photographs, clothing, oral histories, maps, archival documents, newspapers, and artifacts.

Lake Tahoe: The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum showcases a world-class collection of over 800 utilitarian and fine baskets from 85 tribes throughout California and western North America. In addition to baskets the collection also includes Native American clothing, jewelry, tools, and pottery.

Las Vegas: The Nevada State Museum & Historical Society presents exhibits on the early people and history of southern Nevada, fossils and important geological formations, and the state’s plants and animals.

Las Vegas: The National Atomic Testing Museum tells the story of the Nevada Test Site and its programs. The museum features many first-person narratives, artifacts, environmental re-creations, and interactive elements for personal exploration.


Las Vegas: The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park is the site of the first Anglo settlement in Las Vegas, and is recognized as the place where Las Vegas began. The site includes a visitor center, inside and outside exhibits, and a reconstruction of the fort originally built between 1855 and 1857.

Laughlin: Old car enthusiasts are in for a treat at the Riverside Casino. Owner Don Laughlin, an avid car collector, has over 85 outstanding antique and classic cars and motorcycles on display, ranging from a classic Woody wagon to actor John Wayne’s 1966 International Travelall.

Primm: The bullet riddled Ford in which Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were riding when ambushed and killed is on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino, along with the shirt Clyde was wearing at the time of his death.

Reno: The Nevada Historical Society Museum tells the story of Nevada from its earliest inhabitants to modern times. Exhibits range from neon signs to the magnificent Native American basketry of Dat-So-La-Lee, regarded by experts as some of the finest in the world.

Reno: The annual National Championship Air Races here feature some of the world’s best pilots. The National Air Race Museum and Hall of Fame displays antique and vintage aircraft flown by some of the biggest names in aviation.

Reno: Old car nuts will love the National Automobile Museum with its displays of over 220 antique and classic cars that include Cords and Duesenbergs, a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Custom Coupe owned by Elvis Presley, a 1941 Chrysler owned by Lana Turner, John Wayne’s 1953 Corvette, James Dean’s 1949 Mercury and Al Jolsen’s 1933 Cadillac.

Reno car

Silver Springs: The remains of Fort Churchill are now a State Historic Park. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the old fort, where a visitor’s center has information on the fort’s role in protecting settlers in the area in the mid-1800s.

Sparks: Housed in the former Washoe County Sparks Justice Court/Library and Hale’s Drugstore buildings, the Sparks Heritage Museum is a historical museum arranged chronologically to tell the history of Sparks and the Truckee Meadows. Each area of the museum focuses on an era of local history such as Native Americans, mining, prospecting, farming, ranching, the railroad, and lifestyles, etc.

Tonopah: At the Central Nevada Museum visitors can see a blacksmith shop, antique mining equipment, and other exhibits on Nevada’s past.

Tonopah: Tonopah Historic Mining Park features a 110 acre self-guided walking tour which includes an “Underground Adventure,” mining artifacts, three head frames and hoisting houses complete with original equipment, a 3000 specimen mineral collection, a black light mineral display, and many additional original buildings housing a wide variety of displays.


Virginia City: Liberty Engine Company No. 1, the Comstock Firemen’s Museum preserves the history of firefighting in Virginia City and Nevada with displays of fully restored firefighting equipment dating back to the 1860s. The items on display include original hand-drawn and horse-drawn equipment, including a restored fully operational fire steamer, antique uniforms, pictures, artifacts, and a fire department patch collection.

Winnemucca: The Humboldt Museum has an eclectic display that includes antique cars, old musical instruments, and other artifacts that tell the story of the region’s history.

Winnemucca: The Buckaroo Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum honors old time cowboys with displays of saddles, branding irons, and western art.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I am now the proud owner of aisle 9.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

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