Nevada November 07, 2016
This Town in Nevada Might Just Be The Most Unique Town In The World
Walking down the streets of Virginia City is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the “Wild West.” The town’s motto is “Step Back In Time” and it’s the perfect description! The town is a National Historic Landmark District and there are many buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Virginia City came about with the Comstock Lode silver discovery. Miners flocked to the area looking to get rich and by the 1870s the town population had mushroomed to 25,000. After the mines began to decline, settlers left the city and today its much smaller population hovers around 1,200. Tourism is the town’s main industry and visitors flock to this charming western setting for a taste of history and all the fun things to do. Here are some reasons why Virginia City might be one of the most unique and wonderful places in the world.
First stop - find a place to stay! The Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon is the oldest operating hotel in Nevada.
This old-fashioned hotel will transport you back to the past. It's also reportedly haunted!
Virginia City's C Street is the main road in town.
Visitors can walk along wooden sidewalks just as they were when Virginia City just started. Walking tours are available, or you can download an app for your mobile phone that will guide you through all of the town's historical buildings and attractions.
There are 17 different museums in the town, celebrating different aspects of Virginia City's history.
The Great Fire of 1875 destroyed much of the town. Because of the heavy use of wood at the time, firemen became deeply important to the town.
Another historic building of interest is the Fourth Ward School.
The school is the last four-story school building in the U.S. Most similar school buildings were destroyed because of the risk of fire to the children. You can still see the same student wooden desks built in 1876 at the school which currently serves as a museum.
Take a ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad!
The V&T was the most renowned short line railroad of its day. Built in 1869 at the time of the mining boom, the railroad still operates much as it did when it first began. Train rides are narrated by a conductor well-versed in local history and lore. The ride is a little over a half hour and passes by historic mines from the Comstock era.
Piper's Opera House is the third iteration of the famous theater. The first two were destroyed in fires.
The third version was built in 1885. It was renovated in the 1960s. A long line of famous figures from Nevada and U.S. history have performed at the opera house, including Mark Twain, Hal Holbrook, Errol Flynn, Lilly Langtry, Al Jolson and many more.
One of Virginia City's most famous residents was beloved American author Mark Twain.
Twain worked as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper for two years. In fact, it was during his stint at the paper that he first used his famous pen name. There is a museum dedicated to him in the city where you can see his writing desk.
At one time, there were over 100 saloons in Virginia City.
Saloons still standing today still have the same look and feel as they did back in the 1860s. The Red Dog Saloon was originally called the Comstock House during the mining boom. The saloon has hosted many famous musical acts such as Janis Joplin.
Another well-known saloon is the Historic Delta Saloon.
The saloon may be the oldest building in the town. It's the home of the "suicide table." Gambling was huge in the mining days when people got rich overnight from the silver mines. This led to ill-advised bets that led to many an unfortunate suicide.
This ornate door is in the Victorian Italianate style.
The Chollar Mansion was built in 1861 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The house, originally built by the owner of the Chollar Mine, is now a bed and breakfast.
The Silver Terrace Cemeteries is another popular historical attraction.
The cemeteries are a series of "terraces" on a hillside overlooking the city. Visitors can see graves dating back to the 1860s. Most of the graveyard plots are in the old Victorian style with small fencing around them. Grave markers can be found in stone, metal and even wood.
Virginia City hosts many events throughout the year for tourists.
The Annual International Camel & Ostrich Races take place in September. Other events include rodeos, parades, outhouse races, and food festivals. Ghost and haunted tours are also very popular, as well as "saloon crawls" and mine tours.
Virginia City has beautiful natural attractions as well. Enjoy a spectacular sunrise in the mountains at the end of your journey back into history.
There’s so much to see and do in Virginia City that it’s hard to just narrow it down to a few. If you are history enthusiast, you’ll love the old West feel of the town while enjoying the “modern touches.”
Have you visited Virginia City? Share your experiences in this unique town in the comments!