Calistoga History Museum
The Calistoga History Museum (1311 Washington St., Calistoga, 707/942-5911, www.sharpsteen-museum.org, daily 11 a.m.–4 p.m.) is also known as the Sharpsteen Museum after its founder Ben Sharpsteen. Sharpsteen, an Academy Award–winning animator for Disney, had a passion for dioramas. It was through his desire (and money) that the immense, exquisitely detailed dioramas depicting the 1860s Calistoga hot springs resort and life in 19th-century Calistoga were built.
The other major player in the museum, Sam Brannan, was the first pioneer to Calistoga to build a hot springs resort using the geothermal springs in the area. At the museum, you’ll learn of Brannan’s success and subsequent ruin in the resort business, as well as his unsuccessful attempt to convert the Napa Valley to Mormonism.
Other museum exhibits highlight daily life in 19th-century Napa, complete with artifacts and a nod to the Wappo Native American tribe who were the first residents of this area.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition