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Virginia City, NV

Updated on May 2, 2018
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M. D. Jackson has traveled and lived all over the Southwest/Northwest. She visits everything from tourist traps to National Monuments.

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Welcome to Nevada!

Northern Nevada is very different from Las Vegas. The historic feel of northern Nevada seems to permeate the little towns of the silver state, giving them a homey and country feel rather than the glitz of Las Vegas.

I am always looking for the kamikaze tourist trap to lose myself in. Now that I am in a new state, I have all new ground to cover! This week I am reviewing Virginia City. Northern Nevada is full of legendary stories and great little historic towns. If you head east of Reno through the mountains you eventually end up in Virginia City. Like most old towns Virginia City has its share of artist, antiques, and tourist attractions.

Those of you who are Louis La’mour fans will remember Virginia City from the Comstock Lode. Virginia City was a booming mining town in its day. In fact there are so many mines through the ground around Virginia City it seems like it should be unstable.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was a newspaper editor in Virginia City before moving on to California. If a visitor so wished they could visit Mark Twain’s desk, which looks like a desk. Apparently Mark Twain bailed out of Virginia City after a nasty argument that was supposed to end in a duel. Apparently Clemens being a better writer than marksman chose to leave. Juicy writer gossip makes for a great tourist story!

Mine in Virgina CIty
Mine in Virgina CIty | Source
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The Suicide Table

We started our tour with the Suicide table. Apparently back in the day people did not wait till they got to their hotel rooms before killing themselves over bad gambling decisions. Fortunes were won and lost at gaming tables, this fact of the old west spurred the legend of this particular table. In all honesty, this was a borderline morbid exhibit. I would skip it if you have small kids, save yourselves from having to explain suicide to those little readers. on the other hand if you have teens, this is a good lesson about evils of gambling (you have to say that last sentence with your eyes wide, it just makes it more fun).

"The Way It Was" Museum

The building architecture in Virginia City borderlines on Victorian. The buildings have ornate decorations, fantastic roof lines, gingerbread trim, and fantastic chandeliers. The buildings alone are worth the trip. The charm of Virginia City is in the old west feel. You almost expect to see a ghost cowboy on a wild horse bucking through town.

"The way it was" Museum tells the story of the towns mining history. It has some great information if you are a history buff. I found it interesting that our son Tristan always seems to locate barbwire displays. I am not sure how barb wire makes it into these types of places but I find it hilarious. The Museum has several movies that run telling about the town and its famous writer.

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Shooting Gallery

One of my favorite things in Virginia City is the Shooting gallery. I have seen shooting galleries in a lot of places, this was the most fun! This two story shooting gallery offers no end to the targets or their animation. For a reasonable price you can make the piano player play, or shoot a squirrel into the air. We spent a little time there because shooting guns in the house rocks!!!

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The Washoe Club

If you are a ghost adventurers fan, this will excite you. The Washoe club is supposed to be the home to real ghosts. My sons took the actual tour of the Washoe club and thought it was fascinating. For a few bucks or the price of a drink you can step into the area where the Ghost Adventurers filmed. The Ghost Adventurers had better luck than we did finding ghosts.

Creepy brick and a creepy stair case yes..ghost..no. Let me say that for the money you pay to get into the place, there should be at least something spooky. Flickering lights, Disneyland like holograms… anything would have been interesting. But people in these parts take the ghosts seriously and they don’t have any of that fanciful citified ridiculousness.

For me the scariest thing about the Washoe club was the people in the bar area drinking. Tristan and I tried to get a freaky reflection while taking photos. I can tell we didn’t get anything real. But we did do a few fake photos, if you look over Tristan’s shoulder you can see the ghost… oooooooooo.

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Candy Stores

Virginia City is home to many candy stores. They are not your average candy stores. Name any candy you have not seen in 20 years, it’s in Virginia City somewhere. Buddy and I had many “remember this” moments. The usual western photos and wrangler boots are available in Virginia City. I was surprised that the antique stores are normally priced for what they offer. We have been back to Virginia City however we have yet to find a decent place to eat there, although we have encounters several over priced places that serve barely edible food. Basically you should eat before you go.

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Wild Mustangs

As we were turning around to leave Virginia City an amazing thing happened. The wild Mustangs that are protected by law in Nevada were in a field. It was an amazing moment for my sons to see these beautiful animals in the wild. These beautiful animals roam free across Nevada.

Other Tips

We visited Virginia City about twice a year for five years. Over time we saw just about everything. My favorite place in Virginia Cit is Pipers Opera house. It is located one street up from the main road. You will see people traveling back and forth up the steep incline. This is also part of the tour if you get on the tour bus from "The Bucket Of Blood" Saloon parking lot. Enjoy your day in Virginia City!

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