With an exciting past stretching back more than 150 years, its no wonder that Virginia City is one of the country’s largest historical districts and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also ranked among the nation’s top twelve most distinctive destinations and hosts millions of visitors each year who come to Nevada to experience the Silver State’s living history.
Following the discovery of a large deposit of silver in the area, Virginia City sprang into existence virtually overnight. Known as the Comstock Lode, this mind bogglingly large 1859 discovery led to a flourishing new town that enjoyed unimaginable wealth and prosperity. By the end of the silver strike in 1898, the Comstock Lode yielded hundreds of millions of dollars, equating to billions today and was responsible for major developments on the West Coast as a whole. In fact, investments made in mining on the Comstock in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s helped propel the development of San Francisco.
While the majority of Virginia City’s residents were drawn to this bustling boomtown to mine, not all who sought their fortune in mining were actually successful. Famously, Samuel Clemens tried his hand and failed miserably. Instead, he took a job at the Territorial Enterprise, where he discovered his knack for writing and first used his famous pen name, Mark Twain.
Today, Virginia City hasn't changed much from its rough-and-tumble beginnings. The mostly original wooden boardwalk and historic structures like 19th century homes, churches, museums, saloons and cemeteries still remain, allowing visitors to feel like they’ve teleported to another time. The Bucket of Blood Saloon is just the place for a refreshing drink after hopping a ride on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad and touring the Fourth Ward School Museum and visiting the Comstock History Center are both must-see attractions in town. You can take a ride on an genuine stagecoach, catch a lift on a horse-drawn carriage, or hop on the trolley for an unforgettable ride through history throughout town. Best yet, you can download the mobile app and take an audio tour to discover the history of buildings throughout town. Pan for gold, tour an old mine, or drink in a little culture at the recently renovated Piper’s Opera House. Built in 1885, it has been called the most significant vintage theater in the west. Visitors today can enjoy guided tours and the occasional production.
Although the spellbinding history is hard to ignore, it’s not just the tales of yesteryear that draw people from all corners of the globe. Virginia City hosts more than a few special events and parades each year, including the Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry, Chill on the Comstock, Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks, The Virginia City Grand Prix, Street Vibrations Fall Rally, and Christmas on the Comstock. Then there are super unique events that you definitely wont find anywhere else, like the International Camel and Ostrich Races and the World Championship Outhouse Races.
For more info, check out www.visitvirginiacitynv.com.