Haunted Nevada: Is Virginia City’s Washoe Club harboring the ghosts of past residents?
All ghost hunting expeditions should begin in a bar.
Preferably a bar like the Washoe Club in Virginia City, where there are bullet holes in the ceiling, a mummified cat in a box over the piano in the back room and plenty of ghost stories.
“People are really into the paranormal, and that’s a big part of this building,” Jennifer Reed, who leads tours of the facility, said.
The Washoe Club, built in 1862, once was the playground for the silver barons of Virginia City and their wealthy and powerful guests, with offices and private gaming rooms on the second floor and a boardinghouse/brothel on the third. For most of the 20th century, the second and third floors — a 9,000-square-foot area with 31 rooms — served as apartments, Reed said. That ended in 1984, but the stories continued: tales of a ghost at the top of the spiral staircase, of disembodied voices telling people to get out, of apparitions seen darting across the rooms.
In 2004, Ghost Adventures filmed a documentary about paranormal activity in Virginia City, holing up in the Washoe Club and getting a full-body apparition on camera. Subsequent interest in the club’s spooky spirits led to the opening of the Haunted Museum in the bar’s back area (this is where visitors can find the mummified cat, as well as “The Crypt” — the bar’s cold storage area that also served as an overflow morgue in the building’s early years.) This summer, the Washoe Club began offering tours of the second and third floors.
Cost to visit the museum is $2; cost for the tour is $8, $5 children. Washoe Club memberships, $20, entitle members to a $1 discount on the tour, among other perks. Proceeds help pay for ongoing restoration of the Washoe Club. For more information, visit the Washoe Club website or contact the Virginia City Tourism Commission, 800-718-7587.
(Far left: "The Crypt" was once a cold storage area for the bar that also was used as an overflow morgue. Left: A child's ball is seen in an empty room on the second floor of the Washoe Club. One of the apparitions people claim to have seen in this area is that of a little boy.