While driving up Highway 395, in the small town of Independence, there is a fantastic little museum that houses the area’s history and displays it beautifully. This spot is known as the Eastern Sierra Museum, and I got a chance to visit it on a recent road trip, here is all the information.
- 10 AM – 4 PM daily
- Location: 155 N Grant St, Independence, CA 93526
- This information is from my visit in 2016
The Eastern Sierra museum is located only a few blocks off Highway 395 near Market Street; which is the street right before the courthouse if you are coming from the south. There is a sign that you can see from the highway as well. The museum has a small parking lot right in front.
Founded in 1928 by a group of volunteers, the museum’s collection reflects the diversity of the valley. The museum houses more than 25,000 photos and a selection of Native American baskets from the tribes of Inyo County.
I have to admit that I was not expecting much when I walked through the doors of the Eastern Sierra Museum. I was pleasantly surprised though, as they have a lot of prominent pieces of history from the area and exhibits that display them well.
The museum is broken into two rooms, one that focuses on Native American artifacts and another that focuses on more recent area history. In the middle of the two rooms, there is a small central room which serves as the gift shop.
I started off in the room of Native American history. Here there were displays full of arrowheads, woven baskets, and other artifacts they had found. Often these types of museums rely on pictures and broken pieces, but the stuff on display here was in excellent condition. I was most impressed with all of the different types of arrowheads, as that is something I loved collecting when I was a kid.
The second section houses more recent pieces of history, focusing on the last century or so.
There was an area that talked about the water battles from the mid-1900s.
Another section featured Manzanar, which is the infamous internment camp from the county’s history.
There was even an exhibit dedicated to Mary Austin, who was the famous author that lived right down the street and wrote about the area.
I found myself just taking my time walking through the rooms and looking at the unique displays.
After spending time here, I headed to the outdoor displays they have as well.
The outdoor section is designed to show many of the different pieces of farming equipment and machinery in general from the last century.
They have a lot of fun pieces here from old tractors to street lights. You will want to take your time walking around this section as there is a lot to see. There are also a few old houses in the back and a couple of picnic benches as well.
When you are visiting the museum, be sure to also stop by Mary Austin’s house , which is located only a block from the museum.
After wandering around for a little longer, I had seen all that I could at the museum. Overall I was impressed with what they had collected here and what the price point was (free). Be sure to check it out on your Highway 395 road trip and let me know what you think in the comments.