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Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center

Historic Site or District
Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center

ADA Accessibility Notes

Parking, elevator available also restrooms.

Following are highlights of the exhibits found at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center:

The Native American Washo Tribe exhibit includes history, baskets, murals, photos, bead work, Gal-Is-Dungal and a fascinating projectile point collection.

“Trails to the Promise Land” features local Native Americans, early explorers (John C. Fremont and Kit Carson), early settlements, ranching, mining, logging and statehood. A huge wall mural lends a bird’s-eye, panoramic view of the west side of the Carson Valley and over the mountain to Lake Tahoe. Historic trails, way stations, towns and other historic areas are featured along with the information about each site.

“America’s Living Legend” depicts the wild mustangs that to this day roam Nevada. Their history and plight is told through a huge wall mural and exhibits.

The Basque influence is prominent in Douglas County. Sheepherders were very important to supplying meat for the miners who worked in Virginia City during the silver mining boom in the 1870s. The exhibit has a sheepherder’s campsite with his dog and Basque carvings on the aspen trees in the background.

The Doctors Exhibit features Dr. Eliza Cook, the first licensed female doctor in Nevada. She served the local population for many years.

Logging denuded the area around Lake Tahoe to supply Virginia City’s mining industry. A logging wagon and photographs give a greater appreciation for the history of logging in Douglas County. Ranching was and is so important to the settlement of this verdant area. After crossing the Plains and the treacherous 40 Mile Desert, emigrants welcome the sight of the lush grasses and the Carson River. Cattle, dairy products, poultry, grains, fruits and vegetables were produced which fed the surrounding population. Aerial photographs of Carson Valley ranches, their brands, and equipment are also on display.

A local contribution to the Museum is the wild animal trophy collection. Visitors get an upfront view of animals from all over the world.

Main Street gives us a view into a Dry Goods Store, Newspaper Office, Mercantile Shop, Barber Shop, Glenbrook Inn, Drug Store and Telephone Exhibit and a Hallway with a timeline of photographs showing the growth and history of Gardnerville and Minden, the largest towns in Douglas County.

The Women in History Room is filled with artifacts from days past. The parlor has an old piano, musical instruments, phonograph players and furniture as well as featuring our local past year’s Women in History honorees. Step back in time in the kitchen and laundry area. The electric wave machine created the latest hair styles in its prime.

The Van Sickle Research Library contains local history books, periodicals, articles, Douglas County High Schools’ Year Books as well as a section on local families. The computer in the Library has free access to Ancestry. Com.

The Changing Room has an area for new short term exhibits. The history of the Ferris Wheel, though, is a permanent exhibit. George Washington Gale Ferris’s inspiration was the waterwheel at Cradlebaugh Bridge on the Carson River. His sister had married a local. Ferris came west to visit her and stayed for health reasons. The Pony Express celebrated its 150th Anniversary and is prominently featured with the Pony Express Trail through Nevada. An operational model stamp mill and other mining implements share a corner in this room.

The Museum Bookstore is full of books pertaining to the local history, flora & fauna, mining, logging, Basque, Washo, maps, note cards, and postcards. A calendar is created each year, using a photograph for each month chosen from local photographers portraying Douglas County scenes. A Christmas ornament is created annually with a featured Douglas County Historical Building.

PastPerfect software has been used to catalogue the Museums’ collection – an ongoing process. The public is welcome, by appointment, for research and to obtain photographs, and other information from the collection.

The Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center was designed by famed architect Frederic DeLongchamps and constructed in 1915. It is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Take a journey into the past and discover the story of Carson Valley, Nevada from early pioneer days to the present at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville. It was here in this rich, green valley that weary pioneers stopped to rest after months of hard travel. As businesses sprang up, some of those pioneers stayed and began farming and ranching the area. The Douglas County Historical Society commemorates the area’s heritage at the Courthouse Museum in Genoa and the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville.

Pet Friendly Notes

Service dogs welcome

Time Period Represented

Pre-historic to current


Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Seasons Open

Year Round Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Holidays


Adult $3.00, Youth $2.00 Under 6 Free DCHS members Free

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