The Richest City On Earth is what the “Welcome To Virginia City” sign claims. When a massive deposit of Silver ore was discovered on the eastern slope of Mt Davis in 1859, the statement was pretty much spot on! A boomtown was immediately put into motion.
Discovering a precious metal brought industry and urbanization to a booming town. Within 1 year, Virginia City built 42 Saloons, 42 stores, 6 restaurants, 3 hotels and 2,345 residence. In 1963, the population rose to an amazing 15,000.
With a growth rate of over 630 percent in 3-years, there would be hazards to deal with. Between 1859 and 1875, there were five tragic fires. The most devastating fire which was named the ‘The Great Fire of 1875’, caused an estimated 12 million dollars in damage. In 1961 after Virginia City had been mined out, it was declared a National Historic Site. My name is Anthony and I will be narrating your tour around this famous boomtown!
When most of us go to work or run an errand, all we have to do is jump into our car and turn a key and off we go. It wasn’t that easy back in the 1800s. There were obviously no paved roads or highways back then. Before loading up for a rough ride into town you had to take the horse(s) out of the barn, harness them up, and hitch them up to the wagon.
Several things have changed, and others stayed the same. Main street has since been paved, but the walkways still remain the same. In the day, people had to deal with warping boards and blowing dirt. Not much has changed when it comes to the walkways. You still have drifting dirt and need to watch your step.
Most of the the structures that line main street (C Street) still maintain their original makeup. These buildings are home to all kinds of unique shops, restaurants, and saloons. Just stepping inside one of these locally owned establishments is an adventure all in it’s own.
I was amazed how Virginian City keeps it’s authenticity on a daily basis. Many of the businesses’ employees dress for the times. Another authentic treat that caught my eye was the actors of the Virginia City Outlaw Theater. No only do they dress the part, they also act the part. They walk around town mingling and taking pictures with the tourist.
There are several story-line saloons along main street. However, one of these beer slinging establishments had a unique name. The ‘Bucket of Blood Saloon’ acquired it’s reputation for being a rough place to hangout. I guess there was quite a bit of fighting and the blood had to go somewhere. Hence, it’s given name.
When America’s largest silver ore strike spread across the country, Virginia City became a boomtown overnight. The Tahoe House Hotel & Bar was one of the city’s original hotels built in 1859. This historic hotel now offers a memorable stay in one of its lavish suites. If you are passing through and looking for a place to hold up, the Tahoe House Hotel could be your place of choice. The hotel is situated right on main street and is within minutes of everything this nostalgic city has to offer!
There is another great way to see and learn more about one of Nevada’s most popular mining towns. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad was formed in March of 1868. The train’s main purpose was to take it’s precious ore to milling stations and on it’s trip back, hauled lumber and much needed supplies to Virginia City. The train performed its required duties for many years.
Today this historic train ride has become a popular attraction for all ages. You can catch this steam powered locomotive at the Virginia City Train Station located on E. Washington and E streets. It travels along three miles of it’s original route to the Gold Hill station. It goes through a tunnel and circles around several historic remains. The round trip is approximately 35 minutes long.
Virginia City, Nevada entertains over two million visitors annually. This 19th century mining city holds lots of secrets. You can feel the past as you walk along it’s wooden sidewalks and visit the nostalgic buildings. Unfortunately, with all the visitors passing through, you always have a few people who don’t respect the city’s historic value. Please help keep America’s landmarks intact for future generations. It will help them understand what made American the great country it is today. Don’t forgot to watch the attached video. It gives you a street level view of this once booming city!
Photography: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Video: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Article Creator & Formatting: Anthony Scopel
Video Production: Anthony Scopel & Matt Kemper
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Web Support: Matt Kemper
Publishing Provide By: You, Me and The Dock
“A big wonderful thank you for my Briana Biagi
for driving us to Virginia City on her day off!”