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Raymond Museum and Historic Town Site

Raymond Museum in the Charles Miller House built 1886

Photo © Lynn Northrop

Raymond, California looks as it has for over 100 years. Fewer buildings exist due to many fires over time and the main road through town is paved but a visitor can still get food in the 1890 General Store or have a beverage in the 1891 Shaw Brother's General Merchandise store, now a bar called the Frontier. Raymond is one of the few towns in the Sierra Nevada established strictly for tourism and not built because of the gold rush. The original homestead house is open as a museum and can give visitors a glimpse of Raymond's colorful past. The raised bed for the Southern Pacific Railroad is still visible and visitors can picture the train rolling in twice a day, taking tourists to their stagecoaches for the adventure to Yosemite. Raymond was the terminus for the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1886 until the tracks were pulled up in the 1940s. Besides being the main tourist hub for Yosemite National Park from 1886 until 1907, Raymond was also the main freight and commerce center for the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills. Ranchers, loggers, farmers and merchants all received and shipped their goods through Raymond by rail and wagon. The Raymond/Knowles granite quarries also used the rail to transport their famous Sierra White granite to San Francisco and all over the United States. The quarry is still producing superior granite today and is open for visitors. Coming to Raymond today, tourists can get an idea of how the earlier travelers to Yosemite National Park felt as they started up the stagecoach road. They can take the same route President Theodore Roosevelt took with John Muir when they came to Raymond from San Francisco and visited Yosemite National Park. That visit convinced Roosevelt that Yosemite National Park had to be preserved forever.

About this Establishment

The Raymond Museum sits in the middle of the railroad right of way, in the center of town and houses many relics from Raymond's rich past. The museum is in the Charles Miller House, the first and oldest house in Raymond. Built for Charles Miller, the first stagecoach agent and Southern Pacific railroad agent for early travel to Yosemite National Park, the house is listed on the California Registry of Historic Places and provides a glimpse into how people lived in the late 1880s. The museum offers information about driving the stagecoach route to Yosemite National Park and walking tours of the town. Visitors can sit on the old board and batten home's porch or in the original kitchen filled with antique cooking utensils and be transported back in time.

Time Period Represented: 1886 to present

Hours Open: Sundays 12-4 and By Appt.

Visitor Fees: Free-Donations welcome

Seasons Open: All Year Round

 ADA Accessibility Notes
Wheelchair ramp and easy access wheelchair parking
 Pet Friendly Notes
Lots of open space and shade for animals. Water available, too.

For More Information, Contact:

Lynn Northrop

Raymond Museum owner and curator
PO Box 113, Raymond, CA 93653
559 689 1886 · fax 559 689 3319

April wrote on April 23, 2015: We just visited Raymond & loved it. Does anyone know about the granite building that is now falling apart next to the post office? We are interested in the house next door 32080 road 600. We were told built in 1921 but I can’t find any info on this house or granite building next door.

Tony Hardwick wrote on January 15, 2015: Glory, Bill owns and tends bar in town. His phone# is 689-3331. I am not sure of the area code. Robert tends bar just outside of Raymond at the junction to Coarsegold. I will put my email here in case anyone wants to get in touch.

Glory wrote on January 08, 2015: @Tony Hardwick I like that idea! Do you happen to know how to get in touch with Robert or Bill? I am really stumped with this part of my genealogy and I am looking for ANY lead!

Tony Hardwick wrote on December 23, 2014: I would like to request that somebody physically post this web page, with the comments, on a wall or bulletin board at the Raymond Museum. I believe it would generate lots of interest and could possibly coordinate some of the unanswered comments herein. Surely town residents could add something. I have done some research and obtained the names, Robert Cazerango and Bill Williams (local bartenders). They have lots of information.

Glory wrote on December 09, 2014: I am doing some genealogy research and I am at a roadblock with a girl named Suzy Lang. I know she graduated from Raymond High School in 1941. That is all I really know about her. Is there anyone out there who might know a few more family connections? Any help is much appreciated! :)

Tony Hardwick wrote on November 15, 2014: I have read all of the comments and recognize some of the names mentioned. From 1946 through 1949 my brother Jamie and I were boys on the Bell Ranch. About ten years ago I revisited the old ranch site (with the Franco's permission). I have much history and many stories to tell if there is any interest. If so, I would like to visit the Raymond Museum and talk with Lynn Northrop. Also, I would like to hear from any people who were around in the days I was there. When I was there ten years ago, I ran down information regarding my best friend on the ranch, Steve Bradley. I contacted him and spent a few days with him in sadly, the last week of his life. Meg, Auntie Bell's name was Emma. Andrea, your name Metz rang a bell but I can't place it. That was a name that was connected with the ranch, I believe. Craig, I don't remember you but your memories were a lot like mine. Not sure if you were there when I was. Norty Bell Taylor- I certainly do remember your uncle Norty and your grandfather Max. I will email Lynn Northrop and give her my email and phone number in case anyone wants to contact me. Let's keep this dialog going! :-)

Meg McCalla, NM wrote on September 22, 2014: My husband (dec’d)& I visited "Auntie Bell" & Pete ca 1957 (during her final illness). I'm seeking any info / pix re their fostering for a family history for my children. Their father lived there in the early fifties, but I don't know "Auntie's" given name & can't locate an obit. I remember Pete's delicious pancakes!! Thanks.

Anmorata wrote on July 13, 2014: My friends and I took a little road trip and ended up here 2666–2668 Preston Rd Raymond, CA 93653 United States It was a little broken old house with another building fallen down, what looked like might have been an out house, and an old barn. I'm just wondering why the house had furniture still inside and I just want to know the story behind it.

Andrea Nairne Metz wrote on June 25, 2014: My grandmother, Elsie Rae Nairne, was born in Knowles, CA. in 1897. She was raised in either Knowles or Raymond. Her father, Arthur Rae, worked in the Knowles Granite Quarry. Elsie’s uncle, Peter Bisson Jr., who also worked in the quarry, sculpted the lions that grace the front of the quarry to this day. Because of these family connections on Saturday, June 21st my husband, Forrest and I visited the Knowles granite quarry, the town of Raymond and it’s museum. We took several pictures of the quarry, town and museum which are attached to this document. The museum was closed on the day we came to visit. We took pictures of the museum and went to nearby Raymond, CA for lunch. We visited with the owner of the Raymond general store, took pictures and ate lunch at their diner. On Wednesday, June 24th we were checking out of the Chukchansi Indian Casino Hotel and relayed our experience to our bell hop, Nacona Harlo. Nacona shared with us that he lived in the countryside close to Raymond so I shared my family history of Raymond with him. He then told me, his grandmother was the longtime housekeeper for Lynn Northrop and her family. (Lynn is a long time soap opera star currently on General Hospital) who refurbished and currently owns the Raymond Museum. Nacona told us Lynn’s children went to school with his sister in Mariposa and that the Northrops were great people. Today, I e-mailed the Raymond museum in hopes to share this information with Lynn. How fun to have a slight connection to all of this. I am now going to hunt for family pictures of my grandmother in Raymond. What a great story. Lynn, thank you for a wonderful museum and for your years on GH. Andrea Nairne Metz June 25, 2014

Donna Spillane wrote on January 14, 2014: Lynn Northrop has done a fantastic job gathering things for the museum. My husband John Spillane was born and raised there, his Dad Jack was foreman on the Raymond Cattle Company ranch owned at the time by the Skaggs Family..The museum has been a Great thing for the town so much history there.

Craig D Hollingsworth wrote on July 08, 2013: I spent many happy days at the Bell Ranch "Auntie Bell", and by then Pete Deputz (Miss spelled I am sure). With all their love they cared for children in need for the county. My Dad, and his brothers met them early on, and panned, sluiced for gold on the Merced River passing through the ranch, as I did later recreationally. When Auntie Bell and Pete needed a vacation, my folks would go up and fill in while they had a chance to relax. The sling swing merry go round, the tarantulas, and -- I remember the night some youngsters from town wanted to get to one of the girls, and -- there was a gunfight -- they fired on the house, we hunkered down and tried to be safe. They had cut the phone line, so it meant waiting them out. In later life, Dad and I were back on the ranch, with Franco’s permission of course, finding the roof blown back, and in need of repair, climbed up, worked on the roof, attempting to preserve the good memories of the past. Ice packed from town, homemade Ice Cream on the patio. Music, Dad playing the piano, the old generator for a short time at night, and 2 holes and a path. Great memories! Wonderful people.

LIU GUOYING wrote on March 26, 2013: We are a group of travelers from China. We visited Raymond Museum on our way driving to Yosemite National Park. What we were impressed very much by there was not only the Museum and its contents but also by the owner and operator of the Museum Lynn’s enthusiasm and hospitality. Lynn kindly showed us throughout the Museum and its grounds. By Lynn’s introduction we got to know the historical significance and position of Raymond and the hardness of visiting Yosemite Park in the early years. We are lucky for today we can drive cars all the way to the park. We did have a happy hour in Raymond. Thanks again, Lynn.

Susan Evans wrote on March 10, 2013: My great grandfather’s obituary says he "took up a government claim above Raymond. Later he started a store near the old Soquel mill, and for a great many years was a watchman at the mill, being employed by the Madera Flume and Trading Co." Any chance the store in your picture is near the old Soquel mill? Any direction or help you can give me for researching this area would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks, Susan Evans

Hines wrote on March 06, 2013: My family used to own that property. Good times.

Norty (Bell) Taylor wrote on August 04, 2012: I have many great memories of Raymond. From the time I was an adventurous youngster, I liked exploring the family’s "BELL RANCH", (Chowcilla River, rattle snakes, poison oak and all that goes with it) My uncle and aunt (Norty & Lou Bell) opened a store, Post Office and Saloon next door to the old Sierra Telephone Co., owned by Harry Baker in the 50's and they lived on the second floor above the telephone company for a number of years. This was all done with the help of Buc Buchannau who was a local rancher just below Raymond on the Chowcilla Rd. My father also worked alongside my uncle for Buc and I have a belt presented to my dad by Mr. Buchannau for honoring a "job well done" which I understand was some what a rarity at the time. My father and uncle helped drive cattle to Beasore Meadows and above for summer grazing. And then down the mountain again after the snow started to fall. After a few years my aunt and uncle along with my Grandfather, Max Bell, moved the store and post office as well as the saloon across the main road to where it is located today, now called the Raymond General Store. The Bar and store are much as I remember them as a kid, but the post office was changed (Moved). The Granite rock building is the same as it was a hundred + or - years ago. I can remember the old train turnstile which allowed the trains (cars) to be turned in a circular direction. I also remember the two horse race gates and track which my uncle and grandfather had a lot to do with. Both were strong gamblers and horse owners, willing to take on any bet. The old white barn owned by the railroad in the center of town, is now gone. I caught a lot of pigeons in that old barn when I was younger. (A LOT YOUNGER). So many memories and so may great families to remember such as the Harlow's, Pete, Ernie, Eddie, and sons. The Alberta's, The Fick's, The Franco's, The Vandernack's, The Montgomeries, The Preston's, The Calhoun's and many other's I am remis in not mentioning. To all of you----- You are the core of Raymond. Norty Taylor die, Alberta's, Fike's, Phelp's, Preston's, Wood's, Franco's, Vandernac's, and so many others who have made Raymond a very special place.

Brenda wrote on July 07, 2012: My husband, son and I wintered just outside of Raymond when we ran a pack station in the Sierra. It’s a great little town full of history. The store hasn't changed much I'm happy to see. Love your website. Thanks for sharing these photos and information.

Peggy B. Perazzo wrote on March 12, 2011: The Raymond Museum is fun to visit and has a large, excellent collection of photos, etc., on Madera County's granite quarries.

Carolyn Weisman wrote on April 22, 2010: The museum is filled with memories attached to pictures, tools, and items used daily. People have opened their closets and attics to make this a history museum. The old R.R. Caboose will soon be completely restored and open for visitors. What fun to be a part of this project.

"Bobby" Norberg Miles wrote on April 18, 2010: I lived here as a kid. Dad owned the Bell-Norberg Store and I remember the excitement on horse race days. Loved being back for the Raymond Parade and my first visit to the museum. Lynn has brought the past to renewed light in establishing a museum of delight for all visitors. Loved every minute. You’ve made my memories even more special!

Kim Boudreaux wrote on October 31, 2009: Raymond is fun to visit. Ate at General Store and then toured museum. New railroad track is great!

Al Herring wrote on October 31, 2009: Wonderful place to visit. Museum is awesome representation of late 1800s.

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Longitude: -119.906967200
Latitude: 37.212744800
Elevation: 922 FT (281 M)
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Lynn Northrop
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