New, impressive displays open at Mount Shasta Sisson Museum

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
The Smithsonian Institute Journey Stories traveling exhibit fills the Sisson Museum back room in Mount Shasta. The displays offer a unique look at why and how Americans came to be where they are.

The new displays at Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum are unlike anything the facility has offered in the past.

From the comprehensive railroad exhibit that details the effect of the iron horse on Mount Shasta, including a train coming through a tunnel and a full size handcar on tracks, to the Smithsonian Institute Journey Stories traveling exhibition, the museum provides an experience out of proportion to a small town facility.

The 2015 season began with March 14 gala opening that again showed how the Museum has been transformed the last couple years through the efforts of executive director Jean Nels, an active museum board, and with the help of thousands of unpaid volunteer hours.

The Smithsonian is arguably one of the most prestigious repositories in the world, and Journey Stories adds to that reputation. From the first colonists and their disastrous effect on the native population to the great human migrations across America, Journey Stories tells how and why people came to be where they are.

The exhibition is divided into six themes: One Way Trip, Pushing the Boundaries, Across the Great Desert to the West, Railroads Span the Nation, Accelerated Mobility and Our Expanded World.

Using the march of transportation technology to bring history alive, Journey relates how people traveled by sailing ship, walking, canoe, boat, wagon, railroad, car and plane.

Lavishly illustrated panels and multi-media allow visitors to experience the nauseating, frightful trip from England to the colonies, the deadly slave ships, the seemingly endless and dangerous wagon train treks to the west, the railroad changing cross country travel from months to days, the culture changing effect of the inexpensive Ford Model T car, and much more.

Sisson is one of only five museums in California to get Journey Stories, which is on display through April 26.

The railroad exhibit brings to life how important the train was to the area. With a mural by Derrel Fleener, a tunnel and a sidecar on tracks, visitors are magically put right into the railroad experience.

Another display puts you at the engine controls as a video screen simulates a ride down the tracks. Numerous photographs also document the railroad experience. The model railroad has been upgraded with sound and light effects along with the addition of many new details.

Mount Shasta history is not neglected. From the gold seekers to the “hippie infestation” circa 1968 Mount Shasta Herald to the present, panels along the walls document the town’s birth and growth.

Board treasurer Grif Bloodheart said in addition to Nels and the volunteers, the new season would not have been possible without the support of community donors: Berryvale Grocery, Aiello, Goodrich and Teuscher Accounting, General Produce, Union Pacific, Crystal Geyser, Snowcreek Studios, Mount Shasta Resort, and the McCloud Masson-Gomez family.

Sisson Museum may reside in a small town, but it offers vibrant, sophisticated exhibits that cover a huge range of history and culture.

The Sisson Museum is located at One North Old Stage Road at the fish hatchery in Mount Shasta. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 530-926-5508 or visit