Milliken Museum and Los Banos Historic Sites

Photo by adam Blauert

Photo by adam Blauert

Treasure trove of artifacts

With people, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  The same is true for museums.  Los Banos’ Milliken Museum may look like a 1960’s era elementary school building on the outside, but inside you’ll find a treasure trove of artifacts and history.  

Milliken Museum 4 Miller Buggy  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Milliken Museum 4 Miller Buggy  PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Want to see evidence of some of the species that lived here in prehistoric times or artifacts from the Native Americans who first settled our valley? 

Want to know more about Henry Miller who led the development of the Westside’s agriculture and the town of Los Banos?  Interested in seeing photos of destruction in Los Banos caused by the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake?  Do you enjoy learning about the technology of home, business, farm, and community life in the past century?  

Milliken Museum PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Milliken Museum PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you’ll probably enjoy a visit to the museum. 

Having not visited in several years, I stopped in a couple of months ago.  The museum has recently reopened following a transfer of the building’s ownership and some necessary repairs that kept it closed through the winter.

Ralph Leroy Milliken

Local farmer, mail carrier, and historian Ralph Leroy Milliken started the museum’s collection in 1954 with documents, artifacts, and oral histories. He served as the museum’s curator until his death in 1970. 

In recognition of his pioneering effort, the museum has renamed for him. 

Milliken Museum PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Milliken Museum PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Today, enthusiastic volunteers staff the museum and carry on the tradition that he began. 

For those who want to learn more about local history, the museum sells several books written by Milliken and other local historians.

Statue of Henry Miller

Allow at least an hour to appreciate the museum’s collection.  While you’re in Los Banos, don’t miss the statue of Henry Miller located at 6th and H Streets.

Henry Miller Statue PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Henry Miller Statue PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

You can then walk or drive around the area between H Street and Highway 152. 

This is Los Banos’ historic downtown and there are many interesting old buildings to see.  If you’re hungry there are plenty of places to get a bite to eat including the legendary Wool Growers Basque Restaurant, a Westside institution for 120 years. 

Wool Growers Restaurant PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Wool Growers Restaurant PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

The name comes from the work of sheepherding done by many of the early Basque settlers of the county.  Hearty multi-course meals are served family-style in a dining room that has hardly changed in 50 years.

It’s the perfect place to end a “history trip.”  Just don’t forget to bring cash as it is the only form of payment accepted at Wool Growers.  If you’re looking for something else to complete your trip, stop by the nearby San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to see tule elk and waterfowl.

Near the refuge entrance you’ll see the Camp San Luis Adobe, the oldest intact building in Merced County. 

San Luis Camp Adobe PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

San Luis Camp Adobe PHOTO BY ADAM BLAUERT

Location and for more information

Built in 1848 by Francisco Perez Pacheco, the one-room house is now protected by a metal superstructure. The refuge is located north of Los Banos on Wolfsen Road.

The Milliken Museum is located adjacent to Los Banos County Park along Highway 152 (Pacheco Boulevard) between 7th and 9th Streets in Los Banos. 

The park is also often known as “Pacheco County Park.”  You can park in the parking area on Pacheco Boulevard or behind the museum on Washington Avenue.

For more information, call the museum at (209) 826-5505 or go to http://www.ourlosbanos.com/millikenmuseum.html

The museum is open 1-4PM Tuesday through Sunday.