VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA
VIRGINIA CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
P.O. Box 464
Virginia City, Nevada 89440
Two miners named Pat McLaughlin and Peter O'Reilly discovered gold at the head of Six-Mile Canyon in 1859. A fellow miner, Henry Comstock, stumbled upon their find and claimed it was on his property. The gullible McLaughlin and O'Reilly believed him and assured Comstock a place in history when the giant lode was named.
Another miner, James Finney, nicknamed "Old Virginny" from his birthplace, is reported to have named the town during a drunken celebration. He dropped a bottle of whiskey on the ground and christened the newly-founded tent-and-dugout town on the slopes of Mt. Davidson "Old Virginny Town," in honor of himself.
The biggest problem in this grubstake paradise was the sticky blue-gray mud that clung to picks and shovels. When the mud was assayed, it proved to be silver ore worth over $2,000 a ton - in 1859 dollars.
The resulting boom turned Virginny Town into Virginia City, the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco, and the grubby prospectors into instant millionaires who built mansions, imported furniture and fashions from Europe and the Orient, and financed the Civil War.
At the peak of its glory, Virginia City was a boisterous town with something going on 24 hours a day both above and below ground for its nearly 30,000 residents. There were visiting celebrities, Shakespeare plays, opium dens, newspapers, competing fire companies, fraternal organizations, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, and the first Miner's Union in the U.S. The International Hotel was six stories high and boasted the West's first elevator, called a "rising room."
A devastating fire nearly wiped out the town in 1875, destroying over 2,000 structures, but the town rebuilt itself in just ONE YEAR. Many of the buildings you see today date from that time.
Virginia City is 23 miles from Reno. Go south on Highway 395 ten miles and then left on State Highway 341. (35 minutes)
Virginia City is 14 miles from Carson City. Go east on Highway 50 for seven miles, then left on State Highway 341. (25 minutes)
Virginia City is 40 miles from Lake Tahoe. Go east on Highway 50 out of Carson City, then east on Highway 50 and then north on State Highway 341. (50 minutes)
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