California Trail Interpretive Center

1 Interpretive Center Way, Elko, Nv 89801
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Our mission The mission of the California Trail Interpretive Center is to interpret the California Trail experience. Through interpretation and education, the Trail Center contributes to the appreciation and preservation of historic and cultural sites. Strong community partnerships forged in the Trail Center enhances sustainable tourism throughout the eastern Nevada region.
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Trail Center Closed

Trail Center Closed

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California Trail Interpretive Center

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Ways to help

Pioneer and Mountain Man Reenactors

The Trail Center also seeks volunteers to share their unique pioneer or mountain man skill. Just a few examples include: Operating a spinning wheel, performing traditional music in the pioneer camp, or cooking fresh biscuits over a campfire. During California Trail Days, reenactors have the opportunity to interact with hundreds of visitors in the span of one weekend. Reenactors provide visitors with an authentic experience of life on the trail. Encouraging visitors to see, touch, smell, hear, and taste history greatly enriches their experience.
  • One-time, Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 21+, 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Event support, Indoor, Outdoor
  • On-site, Formal, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Information Desk

Volunteer staff serve as front line representatives of the Trail Center. Welcoming visitors and providing basic information is a vital part of Trail Center operations. Information desk volunteers have the opportunity to meet and assist visitors from around the world.
  • Weekly
  • Adults
  • Individuals
  • Office work, Indoor
  • On-site
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Research

Volunteers conduct research on the California Trail and its impact to Nevada and U.S. history. An example: Volunteers research emigrant journals and diaries along with other first hand accounts of the pioneer experience.
  • Occasional
  • Teens, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Office work, Indoor
  • None
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Native American History Volunteers

The California Trail Center seeks volunteers to demonstrate traditional Great Basin Indian lifeways, both indoors and outdoors. Examples include Indian beadwork, traditional Native foods, and basket making.
  • One-time, Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 21+, 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Indoor, Outdoor
  • On-site, Formal, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Education Program Volunteers

The education program at the Trail Center is wide and varied. Some volunteer educators teach students about pioneers and the California Trail. Others utilize our 40 acre site to focus on outdoor environmental education programs, and teach students about Great Basin biology and geology.
  • One-time, Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 21+, 55+
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • On-site, Formal, Skilled
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Pioneer life demonstrations

Volunteers bring history to life at the Center’s outdoor wagon encampment while wearing pioneer clothing. The opportunities are endless, from Dutch oven cooking to performing pioneer tunes on a fiddle. Demonstrations may also take place in the Trail Center lobby. Examples include, but are not limited to: spinning, weaving, quilting, doll making and gunsmithing.
  • Occasional
  • Adults
  • Individuals
  • Event support, Outdoor
  • Skilled
  • Weekdays, Weekends
How you help Meet visitors from throughout the world. Demonstrate traditional Native American skills, or perform old fiddle tunes in the pioneer camp. Teach young students about the unique plants that grow in the Great Basin.
About us The California Trail Interpretive Center was the dream of two Elko businessmen, Paul Sawyer and Dale Porter. After determining a center would be feasible in Elko, they worked with local and state political leaders to gain support for the project. The California Trail Center was created through Public Law 106-577, a bill sponsored by former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in 2000. The bill included $10 million in appropriated federal funds to construct and develop a major western cultural and educational attraction. A total of $12 million in federal funds was used to build the Center and its state-of-the-art exhibits. The State of Nevada contributed $3 million to the site, while the City of Elko contributed $2 million, and Elko County, $1 million. Since the grand opening on June 2, 2012, the site has welcomed visitors from throughout the United States and around the world. The 40 acres of land the Trail Center is situated on and the access easement were donated by the William Searle Family. The Trail Center is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Programmatic and financial support are provided by the Southern Nevada Conservancy, the California Trail Heritage Alliance and the Nevada Outdoor School.
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