Independence, Inyo County, California

Museum History

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By T. Eugene “Gene” Barrows

The Eastern California Museum was organized in 1928. For many years it was housed in the basement of the Inyo County Court House. Needless to say, as the years went by the exhibits became more and more crowded. More room for displays was badly needed.

In the 1960’s Mr. and Mrs. Walter Dow, of Lone Pine, who were in the sunset of life, took note of the crowded conditions and decided to do something about it. Wishing to do something for the communities that had supported their business thru the years. they donated the money for a new museum building. Neither Mr. or Mrs. Dow lived to see the building completed and dedicated to them. The people of lnyo County will be ever grateful to them.

Moving the exhibits into the new building, and other publicity. brought added donations by interested people. The number of visitors kept increasing as pleased visitors told their friends about the museum. Groups of school children, church groups, Scouts, youth groups, high school and college groups visit and are given special attention by the museum personnel. Many groups come by the bus load. Some people come to obtain the history of some relative who lived in the valley years ago. There is no end to the knowledge gained, and the pleasure received, by the people who visit the museum. They come from all states and many foreign lands.

The main building houses the Indian artifacts, fossils, min­erals, the many interesting, and some quite rare, items relating to the early white settlers. There are old and rare photographs, family histories, a library of rare books pertaining to the vicinity. old musical instruments and many, many other things.

We joined this organization when we first came to Inyo County, and it helped bring us into a closer relationship and a greater appreciation of the valley, its history, and natural resources.

Occasionally there has been an evening lecture at the museum by some knowledgeable person. The lecture is usu­ally illustrated by charts, slides, or artifacts. The public is invited and there is no charge.

For several years. museum personnel, the Independence Garden Club. and other interested people have put on an evening Variety Show, in front of the museum. We learned much as we participated in these pageants depicting the early days of the little village of “Putnam” (sometimes referred to as “Little Pine”). the establishment of Inyo County. These pageants, under the direction of Mrs. Dorothy Cragen, were historical, factual, and a lot of fun. They featured old-time attire, music, and even refreshments reminiscent of by-gone days. Local people modeled the clothes of long ago, that have been packed away for so many years.

{*Copied without permission from Saga of Inyo County ©1977 by Chapter 183, Southern Inyo American Association of Retired Persons.}


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