Virginia City, Nevada
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2012)|
|Virginia City, Nevada|
As seen from the Mason's cemetery - 22 May 2010
|Motto: "Step Back in Time"|
|• Total||0.8 sq mi (2.2 km2)|
|• Land||0.8 sq mi (2.2 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||6,150 ft (1,874 m)|
|• Density||1,000/sq mi (390/km2)|
|Time zone||Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC-7)|
|GNIS feature ID||0856420|
Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown on top of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovered in the United States, in 1859. Though at its peak in the late 19th century it had over 15,000 residents, the mines' output declined after 1874, and as of 2010 Census the population of Virginia City was about 855, with 4,000 living in Storey County.
Folklore indicates that the town got its name from a man named James Finney who was nicknamed "Old Virginy". Finney was credited with discovering the Comstock Lode. His real name was James Fennimore, and he had fled his home state of Virginia after killing a man.
Like many cities and towns in the state, Virginia City was a mining boomtown; it appeared virtually overnight as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. At its peak, Virginia City had a population of over 15,000 residents and was called the richest city in America. During the 20 years following the Comstock success "about $400 million was taken out of the ground." Most of the miners who came to the city were Cornish or Irish. In 1870, Asians were 7.6% of the population. When the Comstock Lode ran out in 1898, the city's population declined sharply.
Mining operations were hindered by extreme temperatures in the mines caused by natural hot springs. The miners would snowshoe to work and then descend into the high temperatures. This contributed to a low life expectancy. Adolph Sutro built the Sutro Tunnel in support of the mining operations. The tunnel drained the water to the valley below (Dayton). Conceived in 1860, it was not completed until many years later, after much of the silver had been mined.
Great Fire of 1875
Between 1859 and 1875, Virginia City experienced five serious fires. The 1875 fire, dubbed the "Great Fire of 1875", in October, 1875, caused $12 million in damage. In ensuing months the city was rebuilt, better, and majority of the National Historic Landmark historic district area was then built, in 1875, 1876, and later years.
Virginia City and Mark Twain
Virginia City could be considered the "birthplace" of Mark Twain, as it was here in February 1863 that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name. Virginia City historical documents state that Clemens was mugged on November 10, 1863, as he walked over the hill from the south while returning to Virginia City. The muggers relieved Clemens of his watch and his money. The robbery turns out to have been a practical joke played on Clemens by his friends, to give him material to write about. He did not appreciate the joke, but he did retrieve his belongings—particularly his gold watch (worth $300), which had great sentimental value. Clemens mentions the incident in his book Roughing It (published Feb. 1872), apparently still sore about it.
Many locals work at the shops in town that cater to tourists, while others seek jobs in the surrounding cities. Virginia City draws over 2 million visitors per year and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Arts and culture
Virginia City Hillclimb
There is an annual hillclimb that runs from Silver City to Virginia City via Highway 341 (a truck route) that is put on jointly between the Ferrari Club of America Pacific Region and the Northern California Shelby Club. The event is officially open to performance vehicles of all makes as of 2013. The event was put on first by Road & Track and the Aston Martin Club, the following year the SCCA took the same route, and later it was picked up by the Ferrari Owners Club. Highway 342 is now the return route for cars that have completed their runs up Highway 341. The hillclimb covers 5.2 miles (8.4 km), climbing 1,260 feet (380 m) and passing through 21 corners.
Museums and other points of interest
Virginia City is home to several buildings and artifacts that remain from the time it was a boom town. Among them are the Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Old Globe, the Silver Queen, and the Suicide Table. Occasionally a gunfight is acted out.
Virginia City has one elementary school (Hugh Gallagher Elementary School), one middle school (Virginia City Middle School) and one high school (Virginia City High School).
The Virginia & Truckee Railroad's northern terminus is located at Virginia City. A project was started in 1977 to begin rebuilding one of the nation's "crookedest railroads". The portion of line that has been rebuilt so far stretches south to Carson City and through Gold Hill. The project ran the first steam engine from Carson City on September 5, 2009. Meanwhile, other trains are pulled by historic locomotives between Virginia City and Gold Hill, attracting thousands of tourists each year.
- Lucius Beebe, author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist
- Julia Bulette (1832–1867), English-born prostitute and madam
- Charles Clegg, author, photographer, and railroad historian
- Harold A. Henry, Los Angeles City Council president, born here
- John Brayshaw Kaye, poet and politician, worked in the town in the 19th century
- Richard Kirman, Sr., 17th Governor of Nevada from 1935 to 1939; born in Virginia City
- Albert Abraham Michelson, the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics (1907), grew up in this rough mining town, where his father was a merchant
- Mark Twain, writer, who worked for the local paper and whose novel Roughing It is set in and around the city
In popular culture
- Author Louis L'Amour's "Comstock Lode," copyright 1981, is set in Virginia City during the silver rush.
- Virginia City is near the site of the fictitious Ponderosa Ranch on the Western television drama Bonanza. As such, the show's characters made visits to the town regularly. The Virginia City depicted on Bonanza was located at RKO Forty Acres in Hollywood.
- It was the locale of the 1940 film Virginia City, set during the Civil War, and starring Errol Flynn.
- The city during its mining boom was the setting for most of the 1946 James M. Cain novel Past All Dishonor.
- Virginia City und die wahre Geschichte des Wilden Westens (“Virginia City and the true history of the wild West”), directed by Elmar Bartlmae, is a 2007 German documentary film.
- In 2004, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin filmed their paranormal investigations at reportedly haunted locations in Virginia City for their 2006 documentary Ghost Adventures.
"Darcy Farrow", a folk song written by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell, mentions Virginia City and other places and landmarks in the area (including Yerington, the Carson Valley, and the Truckee River). The most popular version was performed by John Denver.
Virginia City's Red Dog Saloon was where Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans, the Grateful Dead and others got their start during the summer of 1965. Happenings at the Red Dog, including a house light show, underpinned the beginning of West Coast hippie culture.
- "Virginia City Nevada". Virginia City Nevada. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- "Profile for Virginia City, Nevada, NV". ePodunk. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Virginia City CDP, Nevada". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- "Profile for Virginia City, Nevada, NV". ePodunk. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Rinella, p. 73
- Thomson, p.26
- Payton, Philip, Making Moonta: The Invention of Australia's Little Cornwall
- "Historical Census Statistics on Population". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- Snell and Larew, pg.2, 8, 9
- Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 159.
- Thomson, p. 35
- Rinella, p. 78
- Powers, Ron, Mark Twain: A Life. Free Press, 2005, p. 167. ISBN
- "Virginia City Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- Charles Snell and Marilynn Larew (April 21, 1978). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Virginia City Historic District (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22 and PDF (8.81 MB)
- "Piper-Beebe House". National Park Servicet. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- "Nevada Governor Richard Kirman". National Governors association. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- On Arte-TV, May 26th, 2007, in German. Retrieved 18 November 2009
- Gillette, Steve. "Darcy Farrow Lyrics". Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen website.
- James, Ronald M. Virginia City: Secrets of a Western Past (University of Nebraska Press; 2012) 176 pages; historical archaeology
- Rinella, Heidi Knapp, Off The Beaten Path: Nevada, Guildford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7627-4204-2
- Thomson, David, In Nevada: The Land, The People, God, and Chance, New York: Vintage Books, 2000. ISBN 0-679-77758-X
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Virginia City, Nevada.|
|Wikisource has the text of an 1879 American Cyclopædia article about Virginia City, Nevada.|
- Virginia City Tourism Commission
- Virginia City, Nevada and the Comstock Lode website
- VisitRenoTahoe.com - Virginia City pages
- Three Historic Nevada Cities: Carson City, Reno, Virginia City, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
- Piper-Beebe House
- "Virginia City". Encyclopaedia Britannica 24 (9th ed.). 1888.
- "Virginia City". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.