One of the main attractions in the museum is a diorama of Calistoga in 1868. It is based on photographs and prints from that period. There is a long panorama photograph of the resort taken from the top of Mt. Lincoln (the hill at the end of Lincoln Avenue) in the 1860s. The panorama, which inspired the design, now hangs on the wall above the diorama to the far right. Compare it to the diorama to see just what an accurate depiction was created. It took nearly three years to complete. The painted background extends the diorama out to the horizon, with the Calistoga depot and Mt. St. Helena beckoning from right out of the wall.
The diorama depicts a lovely summer day at Sam Brannan's Calistoga Hot Springs Resort. Brannan had acquired most of the property by 1859, and by 1860 built his first hotel. The complete resort opened in 1862. Featuring the Hot Springs Hotel, a ballroom pavilion, bathhouse, skating rink, a store and express office, stables, a swimming pool, an observatory atop Mt. Lincoln, several gazebos, and an array of between 13 and 25 cottages, all arrayed along two concentric circles of broad avenues and tree-lined cross streets.