As a community built on Mark Twain’s mastered sensationalism and satire, finding varied versions of history in Virginia City is more common than you might suspect. That’s why the Courthouse Slammer & County Museum should float to the top of every visitor’s must-see list. Not only is it housed inside an actual piece of Comstock history, but it nails the rich history of Virginia City with admirable truth and detail.
As the site of the largest silver strike in United States history, Virginia City drew the most qualified miners and the upper crust of society in one fell swoop. Almost overnight, Virginia City became the epicenter of power, influence, and opulence in the American West. Today, this two-tiered cellblock has been repurposed into a fascinating museum, delivering reliable, detailed history. Consider the Courthouse Slammer & County Museum the Alcatraz of Virginia City—but the cool factor doesn’t stop with the bones of this architectural find.
The Courthouse Slammer & County Museum is a stone’s throw from Historic C Street, housed inside the still-operating Storey County Courthouse. Swing those 10-foot-tall doors open and keep going as you pass the county assessor, Department of Motor Vehicles, judges’ chambers, and other clerical offices. The museum is located straight ahead inside the historic jail cellblock that served this 1875-era courthouse for decades.
Explore masterfully done exhibits in and around the former working jail cells, including wild tales of saloons, storied gunslingers, ladies of the night, and the “Millionaires Club.” You’ll also get to soak in detailed history about the Comstock Lode, Mark Twain and the Territorial Enterprise, the Silver Terrace Cemetery, Saint Mary in the Mountains and other celebrated churches throughout the community, and stories of the melting pot of cultures that served the Comstock Bonanza and shaped the story of the American West.
As this unique museum operates inside of a working county courthouse, museum hours are limited to standard business hours. The Courthouse Slammer & County Museum is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Admission to Virginia City’s Courthouse Slammer & County Museum is free, though this enriching cultural center depends on donations. These contributions help with establishing and preserving museum exhibits, and support future additions to the property. When visiting this valuable historical resource, please consider making a donation!