Destinations Scenic Routes Travel


Written by sierrarecmagazine

VIRGINIA CITY, Nevada —Adventure and history going back more than 150 years is just a 45-minute
drive from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada. The mines that held silver that funded
the Civil War, established Nevada’s statehood and made poor miners into millionaires are just waiting to
be explored.
With its wooden boardwalk, historic landmarks, including the last school of its kind in the U.S. and most
expensive court house built in the state for 50 years, Virginia City, Nevada, offers a real glimpse to what
life on the Comstock was all about.
C Street, the town’s main drag, is lined with saloons, eateries and quaint shops. Some say it has the
largest concentration of saloons for the town’s mile street – at one point in its history, it boasted more
than 115 saloons. Several of these drinking establishments have sordid pasts including many ghost
stories. Some say Janis Joplin, who played at the Red Dog Saloon, haunts the stage there today. Virginia
City is a mecca for ghost hunters with noted ghost sightings at the Washoe Club and, in fact, offers ghost
tours especially for adventuresome visitors.
A visit to Virginia City really is a step back in time. At its peak, Virginia City was a thriving metropolis of
25,000 people. The bountiful discovery of the Comstock Lode in the late 1850s drew men and women
from around the world to live and work in this high-desert community. At its peak, Virginia City became
one of the most important industrial cities this side of Denver with the silver from the mines helping to
build San Francisco.
Today, not a whole lot has changed on the Comstock, and that’s why it is a marvel to experience.
Virginia City isn’t some touristy amusement park. It’s the real deal. Visitors can get a taste of history and
see what it was like living and working here in the 19th century. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark
Twain, called Virginia City home and the mining town is where he first penned the name Mark Twain
while working at the local paper, The Territorial Enterprise. Tour the Ponderosa Mine in the back of the
old Bank of California building to see the underground workings of a real mine. Or take a ride on the
V&T Railroad, the very same train that transported gold and silver ore from Virginia City to Carson City
and beyond.
Virginia City has its share of museums with more than a dozen operating from May to October. From
overall history to specific themes like the Comstock Firemen’s Museum, there’s something for everyone
to learn and discover.
Pan for gems at the Virginia City Mining Company. Or venture off the main road to find more unique
Virginia City history including the Comstock Gold Mill, the only operating stamp mill in the country, or
take a tour through the Chollar Mine, an authentic and well-preserved mine tour.
Start at the Visitors Center, located at 86 South C Street. For more information on Virginia City, visit
online or call 775-847-7500.

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