Known as the Rail City, Sparks has a proud railroading heritage thanks to its beginnings as a train depot. And at the Sparks Heritage Museum in downtown Victorian Square, visitors can explore historic memorabilia that depicts not only the city’s railroad past but also local history and culture that begins with the area’s earliest Native American inhabitants. T
he Sparks Heritage Museum is located in the former Hale’s Drugstore and Washoe County Sparks Library buildings, both historic structures. Exhibits in the museum are helpfully arranged in chronological order, which gives visitors a good sense of the rapid changes the region underwent. Separate areas of the museum focus on different eras of local history, with historic artifacts and memorabilia from the region’s American Indians to prospecting, farming, ranching, day-to-day life and more. Displays include a grocery store, dispatch desks and a telephone switchboard used by the Southern Pacific Railroad, all from the 1900s, as well temporary and traveling exhibits that include centuries-old Anasazi pottery, Navajo rugs, arrowheads, peace pipes and more. The museum also boasts an extensive vintage photograph collection. Call for current exhibits.
In addition to its prominent railroad focus, the Sparks Heritage Museum also features mining displays that offer insight into the relationship between the two industries and their effect on the city of Sparks. These exhibits and the museum’s collection as a whole give visitors a new perspective on the Rail City.