While you’re in Elko, delve into local history in the museums!
Western Folklife Center
This museum focuses on life in the Wild West, both for cowboys and for the Native Americans. Most of the exhibits feature traditional art, representing festivities, home life, and even culture. The murals are particularly powerful. This is a great museum to visit for a quick peek into Western history.
Cowboy Arts And Gear Museum
This museum, located in an old saddle shop, really dives deep into the cowboy and ranching culture that built the rest. The exhibits include antique riding equipment, old camping gear that would have been used on round-ups and cattle drives, and other artifacts. It’s pleasing to see the focus on Native Americans in cowboy culture, as they are often overlooked despite playing a large role as settlers expanded into the West. Here, the Native American cowboys primarily came from the Shoshone and Paiute tribes, and exhibits relay that information seamlessly with more expected cowboy history.
Northeastern Nevada Museum
The Northeastern Nevada Museum is likely the most all-encompassing museum in Elko. It covers cowboy culture, but also Native American, Basque, and Chinese culture in Elko, and even has exhibits going back to prehistoric times. Don’t miss seeing the two million year old mastodon bones, or the numerous wildlife specimens that give a clear overview of the local fauna. They even have old stage coaches on display!
California Trail Interpretive Center
If you’re particularly interested in Manifest Destiny and Western Settlement, this museum should be at the top of your list. Through art, dioramas, and films, the exhibits look at various sides of the Oregon Trail and subsequent settlers, from pioneer wagons to the imported Chinese railroad workers. By the time you finish, you’ll walk out with a clear understanding of life in the 1800s – the benefits, the motivations, and the hardships.