Virginia City Travel Guide
Once called the ‘Richest Place on Earth’, Virginia City is a town steeped in colorful, chaotic history. This boom to bust Nevada mining town, located between Tahoe and Carson City, is one of America’s largest Historic Landmarks and still carries the atmosphere of the Wild West, offering visitors plenty to absorb.
The history of Virginia City seems more tangible than other mining towns. Mark Twain reported here for a newspaper, and broken down miners became millionaires overnight. The wooden sidewalks maintain the ambiance of this frontier town’s early days in the 1860s, when the infamous Comstock Lode was first discovered. These new millionaires built beautiful mansions all over town, which have been amazingly preserved.
Museums have been created to cover nearly every aspect of Virginia City’s heritage, but visitors can also check out original mining digs at the Choller Mine. Tourism is the mainstay now, so the town is well-equipped to handle visitors. Quaint bed and breakfasts, western-style saloons and plenty of shops fill the streets, ready to service the crowds who come to experience that heady freedom of the Wild West.
Virginia City Trolley: a must-do for all visitors is this wonderful 20-minute narrated tour of town aboard an old-style trolley. It will give you the lay of the land and a decent foundation of local knowledge.
Way it Was Museum: the world’s most comprehensive collection of mining artifacts related to the Comstock Lode are presented here, along with photos and maps from the town’s gold rush peak.
Fourth Ward School Cultural Center: the focus at this impressive little museum is on the daily culture and society of Virginia City during its gold boom.
Bullette Red Light Museum: dive into the fascinating world of brothels, which were a mainstay of every Wild West town, at this great little spot with its collection of vintage erotica.
Mackay Mansion Museum: the King of the Comstock, John Mackay, built this grandiose mansion in 1860 as his headquarters and home. Today, it is packed with mining artifacts and original furnishings, offering the best glimpse in town at the life the gold barons during their heyday.
Virginia and Truckee Railroad: one of the best excursions around is this 35-minute narrated train ride aboard an old steam train that takes you right into the heart of the Comstock mining area.