Sam Brannan is the fellow who pulled Calistoga together as a town, and brought the folks in from San Francisco to take the waters. His cottage is right in town on Washington Street. It’s decorated in appropriate furnishing of the time, and it has a glorious, old piano. Quite a rarity for those parts in 1865, and it’s another sign of Brannan’s millionaire status.
The heart of the cottage is an elaborate diorama that portrays Brannan’s health resort in miniature. It is pure Calistoga in 1865 and has everything from the railroad station to his health resort. Oh, also the racetrack, hotel and distillery. Cannot forget the distillery, which probably kept the town afloat.
Go take a look at the Sharpsteen Museum, too. It’s dedicated to Calistoga’s original settlers, many of whom were old mountain men (including George Yount) who westered when the wilderness ran out. You’ll see a blacksmith’s shop and a California kitchen.
The whole thing is pretty cool. These first settlers weren’t la-ti-da people. They were rugged folks who were looking for another slice of wild. Go explore that side of Calistoga.