8 May - a day trip to Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City was established after the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver discovery in the United States. Numerous mines were opened. At the city's peak in the mid-1860s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents.

The Comstock Lode discovery and subsequent growth of Virginia City is unequaled in the history of the American West.  By 1876 Nevada produced over half of all the precious metals in the United States. The wealth supported the Northern cause during the Civil War and flooded the world monetary markets compelling significant economic change.  During the nearly three decades of heavy activity, the Comstock Lode yielded over $400 million dollars in gold and silver with the richest deposit of silver in the world.

The mines' output declined after 1878, and the population dwindled to around 800 in 2010.

Intricate tunnels and shafts were dug under the town to mine the silver deposits.

The scenery today is of abandoned shafts and tailings dumps leaving bare slopes around the area


Catholic Church - St Mary's In The Mountains

rebuilt in 1875 after a great fire burned down 90% of Virginia City


The remnants of the mines are scattered throughout the town


C Street, the main business street, is lined with 1860s and 1870s buildings housing specialty shops of all kinds


Transport to suit everyone!

We took this 25 minute motorised trolley car tour of the town and learned a lot of interesting stuff



The TV show Bonanza brought Virginia City’s history to a new generation.  The Ponderosa Ranch was located between Lake Tahoe and Virginia City, which, as the nearest town, featured in many episodes. In one episode of the 12th season entitled "The Night Virginia City Died", Deputy Clem Foster's pyromaniac fiancée levels the town in a series of fires (reflecting the real 1875 fire that destroyed three-quarters of Virginia City).


The Washoe Club Saloon is one of the oldest saloons in Virginia City dating back to the early 1860s. In the back of the saloon, which was a morgue at one time for plague victims who died in winter when the ground was frozen and they could not be buried, is a museum devoted to the haunted history of the saloon. The Ghost Adventures TV show has filmed there several times and reportedly has a video of a ghostly apparition walking across the screen, as well as other data on paranormal activity.

Yes, we did the Ghost tour . . .  Up the creaking wooden staircase to the second and third floors, supposedly unoccupied due to the old and weakened structure, which shifted ominously under our feet

Most of the rooms on the upper floors are in ruins, with flaking plaster peeling off the walls, though some restoration work is being done. Rooms were used for parties, entertaining and rented out to ladies of the night.

Originally built in the 1870s to be a high-class bar/club for the rich, called the Millionaire's Club, it became a meeting place for Virginia's City's elite, well-to-do; where they could mingle with their own kind, enjoy their status as achievers, participating in the vices and perks of wealth and not have to associate with the low-brow common man. It was created in the spirit of the exclusive men's clubs found in New York, San Francisco, and Boston.


Home of the painted lady with silver dollars embedded in her dress


Lunch here, given the name, how could we resist?  With views across the cemetery quaint enough to arouse our curiosity and take us for a stroll around it afterwards

a series of terraces dramatically located on a steep, windswept hillside, dating from 1860.  Nearly every plot is fenced or bordered, a typical practice of the Victorian period. The characteristic features of these burial places reflect the breadth of styles and designs popular during their long history. Grave markers range in materials from wood to metal to cut stone.



We took the Ponderosa Mine Tour to have a close up look at the underground workings of an actual, though abandoned silver mine.  Located in the Ponderosa Saloon, formerly the Bank of California. Hence the bank vault and long ago emptied out safe

Loved this vault door!  Very similar to the door of our kitchen strongroom at home.

The original Safe, in that vault.