By Neva Fels |

Exploring One of the Western United States' Most Historic Mining Cities....That Just Keeps Hanging On

In This Adventure:

A railroad was needed between the Truckee River and Virginia City as a connection to Reno for hauling the valuable ore.For decades, Nevada’s most famous Virginia & Truckee Railroad was hailed as the wealthiest short line railroad in the world.  It was also called the nation’s “crookedest railroad.”

On the heels of every boom is a bust.  For 25 glorious years, Virginia was the leading city in Nevada.  Then came 75 bad years during which mining slowed and finally stopped. The city shriveled, but never became a ghost town. 

Gawking at all the Victorian-era buildings, while trying to walk on the uneven board sidewalks, were tricky for this tourist.We decided that a few Bloody Mary drinks at the Bucket of Blood Saloon is a thirst quenching way to enjoy history on a hot day.

Mark Twain began his fame working for a local newspaper in 1862, after failing as a miner.  A century later, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead got their start in these saloons, as the hippie culture started to grow.Museums make up a large part of this town. Among the many antiques are “one armed bandits” with none of the bells n’ whistles of today’s casinos.  Folk lore abounds about the ghost of Black Jake and the Suicide Table in the Delta Saloon. Located on a steep, windswept edge of town is the Silver Terrace Cemetery. This was once a showplace of tree-shaded walks between elaborate monuments and headstones.

We love steam trains and this was a scenic trip to Carson City, traveling past Gold Hill where gold strikes began, then back to Virginia City. Tour guides pointed out the many old mines and wild mustangs on the high desert plains.

This town struggled through a boom to bust era and devastating fires, but lives on to tell its colorful stories. It's definitely worth a visit the next time you're checking out Northern Nevada!