The Lost City Museum

Last week, I wrote about the Valley of Fire State Park being a terrific day trip from Las Vegas. If you make the trip, why not tack on a trip to the Lost City Museum to round out the experience? This museum, one of six state museums in Nevada, was created in 1935 by the National Park Service to house and preserve artifacts unearthed at the nearby Pueblo Grande de Nevada (“The Lost City”) site. With the construction of the Hoover Dam, this site was going to be flooded, and those artifacts might have been lost forever. The Civilian Conservation Corps helped dig up the artifacts and build this museum to house them.

The Lost City Museum

The Lost City Museum

You’ve heard of the Anasazi Indians, right? These ancient Puebloans inhabited this region well over a thousand years ago before suddenly disappearing for no apparent reason. The artifacts you’ll see here at the museum are from that civilization.

Pit House

Pit House

The museum is built on the ancient site of a pueblo and the state has taken pains to recreate dwellings such as the kind they would have lived in. In front of the museum building is an example of an underground pit house, only accessible via a hole and a ladder. Later, they lived above ground in pueblos. If you go for a walk behind the museum building, you’ll be able to see some reconstructed pueblos up close.

Pueblos

Pueblos

Inside the museum, take your time browsing through their collection of artifacts and fossils. There is a timeline of the region and a history of the archaeological digging in the area. If you’re into archaeology, you’ll learn a lot about the process here.

Sign re pueblos

You’ll also discover that the Valley of Fire used to be underwater, and learn what creatures used to live here in the age of dinosaurs. (Dino-penguin, anyone?) The museum features rotating art exhibits and a small gift shop with very nice souvenirs and jewelry.

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Make no mistake, this is a small museum. It’s a far cry from the Louvre. But bigger isn’t always better. If you’re interested in learning more about the region’s history and the culture of its ancient peoples, it’s definitely worth a stop. It helps put those petroglyphs that you saw in the Valley of Fire in perspective when you see more of the culture that created them.

Pueblos

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Location: 721 South Moapa Valley Blvd., Overton, NV. (Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.)
Hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm Thurs-Sun (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day)
Admission: $5
Expect to spend about an hour here, especially if you stop and read the histories.

Leave a Reply

  1. I had no idea this existed–thanks for the post! It’s hard to get me OUT of Vegas–I mainly go there because of the lack of, well, anything educational or cultural. But every time I say that, someone corrects me–and clearly, I AM wrong. There are lots of educational things to do near (ish) to Vegas. I’ll have to check this out on my next visit.

    • Yeah, HELLO, SCHOOLTEACHER. Ahem. ;-) All kidding aside, people sell Vegas short when they think all it has to offer is shallowness and kitsch. There’s history here galore, you just need to look off the Strip for it.

  2. It’s funny how going to educational sites or cultural centers is perfectly normal for most destinations, but people are shocked when they find out you spent part of your Vegas trip in a museum or library! I’ll definitely have to add this to my (embarrassingly long) to-do list, and swing by the next time I make it out there. Preferably during the winter – the heat is bad enough when air-conditioned casinos are just a few feet away! (I know, I know, I’ve been spoiled by modern conveniences.)

    • LOL, Nate! I know, right? “You were in Vegas and you went to a museum???? What’s wrong with you?” Yeah, winter is probably better….although the museum is air-conditioned, too.

  3. During my last trip my nod to yesteryear was a long road trip to Rhyolite, Nevada. It’s about two hours one way, but it interesting to see. The artifacts are 100 years old, not 1,000, but I’m glad I had a chance to see it.

    I’m less intrigued by the Lost City Museum, but yeah, add me to the list of people who have found that sightseeing outside of Sin City is an important component of my travels, at least when I have a rental car.

      • we were looking for something along the lines of a ghost town… and this was one of the places that came up in our search. we welcomed the idea of hitting the road for a couple of hours to see something less than typical for a vegas tourist, and rhyolite fit the bill. if you google it, you’ll find some interesting pics. one of these days i’m going to upload mine to flickr.