The Sparks Museum & Cultural Center houses history exhibits on a diverse range of topics, including mining, music, police, railroads and transportation. The museum grounds is also home to the historic 1864 Glendale School.
As Nevada continues its 150th-birthday celebration, an inconspicuous schoolhouse in Sparks should be getting a lot more attention. That’s because it was founded in 1864, the year Nevada became a state. Although the little white schoolhouse has moved from its original location on the northwest corner of Henry Whistler’s ranch, it still maintains its charm from its 94 years of educating Nevada’s youth.
In the time between rancher Erastus C. Sessions establishing the school and its closing in 1958, a number of students sat in its vintage wooden desks. Celebrated former senator Patrick McCarron learned the three “Rs” there. Visitors who venture inside will find a stuck-in-time schoolhouse, with old Nevada maps, an American and Nevada flag, and portraits of famous presidents Lincoln and Washington. On parts of the walls are black-and-white photos from the school’s history.
That’s just one small part of the museum grounds. Next to the Glendale School is steam locomotive No. 8—a 1907 remnant of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Its cars, Caboose No. 1153 and Business Car No. 132, are decorated just as they might have been during the railroad’s 1900s glory days, giving tourists a candid reminder of a bygone era.
Across Victorian Avenue, in a historic brick building, is the main museum. It’s a treasure trove of artifacts dedicated to the history of Sparks, as well as pre-Sparks. In 1904, a year before the town settled on the name Sparks and was incorporated in 1905, the largest roundhouse in the world was constructed here. While the area’s railroad legacy is front and center, there are also displays that cover mining, pioneer, police, and space history. There’s even a one-horse open sleigh that once served the Carson Valley.
Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Tours of the train are Saturdays only, 1 to 4 p.m., during which time the museum is also open.
Plan Your Trip
Sparks Museum & Cultural Center
814 Victorian Ave., Sparks, NV 89431