Imagine the thrill of riding in the fully restored Calistoga stagecoach used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to take visitors from to Clear Lake and The Geysers. Read about the white-knuckle rides as written in the 1871 “Handbook of Calistoga Springs” available in our bookstore. The stagecoach is presented in front of an exceptional real-life painting that makes you feel like you are rolling into into 1890s Calistoga with the Calistoga Hotel as your destination.
Model Train Diorama
In this diorama, a working model train moves past Calistoga’s Chinatown. The highly detailed artwork behind the trains depicts Calistoga as it looked in the early 1900s. Calistoga’s Chinatown was an important cultural and commercial area; serving as a hiring center for workers needed in the local hop fields, orchards, vineyards, home gardens, kitchens and in the quicksilver mines.
Electric Train Diorama
The rail track, completed in 1912 and in service until 1937, was part of the interurban electric railroad that connected the greater San Francisco Bay Area to Calistoga in the early 20th century. The railroad started in Vallejo where a ferry would drop off people from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. It was developed in sections over several years, finally reaching Calistoga in 1912.
Fossville Barn & Blacksmith Shop & Kitchen
This simulated barn exhibit is a recreation of the Fossville Barn that was located at a short-lived hostelry in Knight’s Valley, about five miles beyond Calistoga. This was the stopping point for stagecoaches traveling to the Geysers. The exhibit remarkably recreates that site and also provides a glimpse of rural living. The interior of the exhibit holds a variety of farming tools from that period.
Virgil Williams Artwork
In 1871, noted landscape painter Virgil Williams married Dora Norton, and returned with her to San Francisco, where he directed the newly formed School of Design until his death. He taught many artists who later became of the nation's most renowned painters. He was a member of the California Landscape School of the 1870s although his paintings of California are rare. Williams died on his ranch near St. Helena. The museum has one of his paintings on permanent display.
Look carefully behind many of the exhibits and you’ll see some amazing artwork painted right on the wallboard. You get the feeling you’re looking out a window into a view as it was in the late 1800s.