Lake Tahoe via Virginia City to Elko NV
Trip Start Jun 12, 2013
52Trip End Aug 01, 2013
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After breakfast we headed for Virginia City, NV back up winding mountain roads to again about 6,220 ft. What a quaint town located 15 miles from Carson City. This mountainside community was once the richest place on earth. The Comstock Lode yielded more than $400 million in gold and silver and bought Nevada its statehood and helped Abe Lincoln finance the Civil War
The first building to greet us was St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church. The original church built in 1868, was destroyed by fire of 1875 and rebuilt with the help of donations from John Mackey and other wealthy miners a year later. The church is still a heaven of peace and tranquility for the many visitors to this quaint town. To our surprise we met another couple in the church who also was from out town of Pittsburg. We had our pictures taken together by Barbara, the lady who ran the gift shop.
There are two other churches in the city, St. Paul’s, also the original destroyed in the 1875 fire and rebuilt a year later. The last church and oldest since it survived the fire is the First Presbyterian church. Both were closed and we could not visit the inside.
We took a tractor pulled tour of the town with a man who chatted on non-stop just full of information for ½ an hour. We passed the Mackay Mansion—now a museum, is a 10 room house build in 1860 who was the richest man on the Comstock. Mr. Mackay was known for making generous donations to the Nevada educational system
From its humble beginnings as a tent town, Virginia City grew to become a mining metropolis and was booming in the 1870’s. Had it not been for the discovery of gold in Six-mile Canyon in 1859, no one would ever have planned a town on this steep rocky mountainside and thus the town became known worldwide. The City’s International Hotel was 6 stories high and operated the first elevator in the West. Also note worthy, the investments made in mining on the Comstock financed the building of San Francisco, 200 miles away.
The Castle, a home build by Robert N. Graves, superintendent of the Empire Mine, was copied after a castle in Normandy, France. Construction started in 1863 and took 5 years to complete. It was considered one the finest mansions in the West during that time.
'C’ St is the main road in Virginia City and the sidewalks are still boards which are part of the charm of this famous historical monument. During its glory days the town housed nearly 300,000 residents, 2 newspapers, 5 police precincts, fire stations, schools, clubs, and the first Miner’s Union in the U.S. That now infamous 1875 fire destroyed over 2,000 structures, but the town was rebuild a year later
The Storey County Courthouse is still in use today. (also reconstructed in 1876) The large zinc statue of the Lady of Justice with scales and sword in hand, adorns the grand façade of this historical building. BUT, she does not wear the usual blindfold. Not sure why.
The Silver Queen Saloon and Hotel is an active hotel. Restored to its original Victorian splendor of the 1880’s. Located in the bar is the ‘Silver Queen’ herself. The 15 foot Belle is adorned in a gown made with 3000 silver dollars. The skirt is 8 ft. wind and a belt encircling her trim waist contains 28-twenty dollar gold pieces.
The Delta Saloon has been serving drinks and camaraderie to all segments of society since the 1800’s.
There is also the Bonanza Saloon & Casino, the Silver Dollar Hotel, and the Julia Bulette Red Light Museum (did not get a chance to see the inside of these places).
Samuel Clemens was hired by owner of the ‘Territorial Enterprise’ newspaper between 1862 and 1868
We passed the Chollar Mine but couldn’t get a picture as it was down low. It was the original entrance to the Comstock Load gold and silver mine. The many miles of mines under the City Streets were shored up by wood from the Lake Tahoe area.
It was amazing to see some beautiful homes sitting right next to dilapidated, falling down structures. But this was the charm of this amazing town.
One last tidbit to share is the rumor that miners found some blue clay on some of the lower slopes of the town and got permission to pave a road down through the middle of town. One miner making at trip into Carson City’s Assay office had the clay analyzed and discovered it was a rich combination of silver and gold in the clay. Our guide said that he wonders how long the main street stayed paved since it’s not paved with the blue clay today.
There is no doubt Virginia City is a wonderful unique place with so much to see and do that we will have to plan another visit to learn more about this amazing piece of American West history.
This stopover would not be complete without sharing some good news we received today. My daughter, Adrienne called this afternoon to let us know that our grandson, Mikey was accepted into the U.S.Marine Corps. He should be called to duty for boot camp just after the first of the year
Time had come for us to leave this bustling community and head for points East. We took Six-mile canyon out of town to US 50 then up to I-80 towards Elko NV for the night arriving at 6:00pm
At this point I will wish you all a restful evening leaving you all in God’s hands.
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