The vast and diverse Sierra Nevada Mountains are rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. But how can visitors make the most of their time enjoying the area and exploring its hidden stories?

In 2016, the Central Sierra Historical Society set out to answer these questions. Founded in 1991, the Central Sierra Historical Society has been enriching the cultural and educational experiences of visitors to the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Shaver Lake for nearly three decades. The museum’s mission is to deepen visitors’ understanding of the human and natural history of the area, and to inspire future generations by bringing to life the challenges and achievements of the people who lived there. The museum actively works to preserve local historical treasures, collects the oral histories of area pioneers, and is the home of the only running powerhouse in a museum in the world.


With a grant from the Central Valley Community Foundation, Central Sierra launched an innovative project to place the sights, sounds, and stories of the great outdoors in the palm of your hand – literally. Sounds of the Central Sierra is a FREE app developed by the Central Sierra Historical Society for smartphones and tablets to increase visitor engagement and to expand the museum’s reach of its collection and programs. With Sounds of the Central Sierra, visitors view a virtual map of the museum’s grounds and exhibits. Utilizing GPS location-awareness technology, the app tracks visitors as they walk, triggering “pop up” facts about exhibits, flora, fauna, and geographic features as visitors pass them.

App users can listen to recordings in both English and Spanish about each of the museum’s exhibits, and the interactive map allows users to pull up virtual copies of historical documents, newspaper articles, and other information pertaining to each exhibit. These features ensure that visitors can enjoy an interactive, informative visit to the museum with this “digital docent.” 

The app launches THIS WEEKEND! Visit the Central Sierra Historical Society’s website for more information. The free Sounds of the Central Sierra app is available for both iOS and Android. Get out and explore our beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, and be sure to stop by the Central Sierra Historical Society to check out the app and their terrific exhibits including tools, photos, and artifacts that highlight the history and industry of the area.

The Central Valley Community Foundation is proud to support projects such as the Central Sierra Historical Society’s Sounds of the Central Sierra through our competitive grant program. For more information on grants from CVCF, please visit the Grants Overview page of our website.