RogueMuirHead: Photography and Writing

Laws Railroad Museum April 2017

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Location: Laws, California

4.5 Miles NE of Bishop on US HWY 6

Within the sleepy sunlight that drifts through the wake of the Sierra Nevada Mountains there lies  small town, Laws. A few generations of families have lived there since the 1800’s. When you arrive you cannot turn your eyes from the looming backdrop of the snow covered peaks and yet, you are drawn through a historical past that has made this part of the Eastern Sierras.

When you first walk into the sleepy museum you are invited to the gift shop to sign in. Introduce yourself to the folks that volunteer there and of course buy kitschy mismatched objects for those you have left behind on your journey. The museum employees are not paid, but primarily consist of local volunteers and retired people wanting to give back to their community. The museum primarily thrives on donations. Granted some of the books are overpriced, however it is still intriguing to look at the Mobe marbles which they sell for a $1. You can look through the postcards and of course seeing if you really desire to spend  50 cents on  Skor bar that will just melt when you go outside into the hot depleting sun.

I first came here in 2014 on my first road trip with Arizona. A favourite childhood haunt of hers, you drink in the history behind each artifact you encounter from two centuries ago. However, it was this trip that I was drawn further back beyond the train that sits, going on a journey to nowhere, that I came across a graveyard of railroad debris, that intrigued the mind with memories that flowed of  years that were gone. Tall water towers sat, emptied ageing as time wore on. This place is set up  to bring the viewer back to the past.

I was drawn to the dusty old tracks that now harboured lizards. They scurried underneath the old tracks as my footsteps trekked across the dusty landscape which end abruptly, scaling the flat land as the Sierras tower before. The railroad ceased operation in 1959, which ran along the Carson and Colorado Railroads. Because of this life developed and brought prosperity to the small town. They had a post office, general store, medical facilities and their own station. Everything all but disappeared for salvage and dumping purposes if it wasn’t for the residents of Owens Valley and Bishop. They worked together to save some of the buildings, some of which had been donated by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1964.

When you cast your gaze as you trek along the man made ghost town, the towers that once housed fuel and water look down on you. The turntable along the tracks waits in the sunlight as I walk past, retired from years of service. You can see the inner-mechanisms, rusted and worn, that would once function to turn the trains to their proper tracks, for their ventures and delivieries.

The Laws Railroad Museum is a place I reccomend on your ventures down 395 south or North. Only a little ways off the beaten path, you will marvel at the past and how far we have come in 2017.

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