The Lost City Museum does sometimes seem lost, but it is certainly a treasure worth finding. The sleepy museum in tiny Overton, Nevada (only a little over an hour from Las Vegas) may not be well know, but for anyone interested in the early human history of the American Southwest it is a must visit. Not only does the museum house many interesting artifacts and tell the story of a distant past culture, the building itself is worth a visit to see a more recent bit of history.
The Depression-era work programs have left some lasting marks on the American landscape, and the Lost City Museum is one of those. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, the pueblo style structure opened its doors as the Boulder Dam Park Museum to house and display the invaluable finds from the more than 120 nearby early Puebloan sites. In fact, the museum itself sits on one of those prehistoric sites. Today it still welcomes travelers to step back a millenia or two to study what life would have been like here.
Inside, visitors can admire the craftsmanship of the ancient artisans. The well crafted baskets and pottery were functional and historic works of art and can be admired while strolling past the glass cases. Then contemplate how precarious life would have been when having to rely on the primitive weapons and tools to get your next meal instead of a short drive to the neighborhood grocer. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to appreciate just how challenging every aspect of life was in the parched desert.
While as interesting as the displays are inside, visitors need to save some time to walk around front to the recreation of the pueblos. Actual foundations that have been excavated provide the base for the recreations, and from the right angle blocking out the few modern human structures in the area can create in illusion of time travel. The stillness of the desert and silence in the air make it easy to ponder on the fact that this once long ago was someone’s home. It makes it all the more believable that it was real people like us that lived here, that dreamed here, that struggled here and that loved here. That sense of realization if only for a few moments makes a trip to an out of the way and little visited museum well worth it.
Overton, Nevada April 2016