FOR 25 GLORIOUS YEARS Virginia City was the leading city in Nevada and the brightest and most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco. Then came 75 bad years during which mining production slowed, became small-scale and sporadic and, upon the Presidential Order of 1942, finally stopped. The city shriveled over those years. Buildings collapsed or were torn down and people moved away. But not everyone. Virginia City never quite died.
And so it is the real deal, not some learned reimagining. The actual Mark Twain made his name here, and walked these board sidewalks. The actual Edwin Booth, Lilly Langtry and John Philip Sousa performed at Piper's Opera House for actual audiences eager for the best.
The actual Ulysses S. Grant came grandly in a carriage from the railroad depot to the International Hotel on his return to the USA from a world tour. This was "The Richest Place on Earth", and it sparked the imagination of the world as nothing had done since the California gold rush. These mines on a mountain made of silver and gold brought people from around the world, and the city they built is their monument to this wealth, both real and imagined.
Into the 1920s and '30s this was still an increasingly ramshackle city of old-timers, and then newcomers began to appear. V.L. McBride opened the Bucket of Blood Saloon in 1937. Dominic Petrini traded his El Capitan in Hawthorne for the Delta Saloon in 1946. Four years later Lucius Beebe and Chuck Clegg revived the Territorial Enterprise and made it nationally popular. Virginia City was being rediscovered.
But it was in 1962 that Virginia City became internationally famous again, this time as the setting for the immensely popular "Bonanza" television program.
Virginia City holds a special place in the heart and the history of the American West, and despite our increasing distance from the glory years, Virginia City's antic history can come to life in your imagination when you visit.
"Entering the main street," Browne wrote, "the saloons along the board sidewalks are glittering with their gaudy bars and fancy glasses, and many-colored liquors, and thirsty men are swilling burning poison: organ grinders are grinding their organs and torturing their consumptive monkeys; hurdy-gurdy girls are singing bacchanalian songs in bacchanalian dens. All is life, excitement, avarice, lust, devilry, and enterprise."
Or just like a modern day Sunday in August (except for the hurdy-gurdy girls and the monkeys).
The old city is one of the largest National Historic Landmarks in the USA, and welcomes visitors the year around.
10 Parades Virginia City loves a parade and does them very well. The old city has 10 of them on the calendar starting with St. Patrick's Day in March through Parade of Lights in December.4 Saloon Crawls Participants pick their cup color based on relationship status and sample beverages from Virginia City saloons. Designated drivers get a special cup, goodies, and a chance at a $50 gas card.Father-Daughter Day Dance Fathers treat their daughters like Victorian princesses with a Virginia City day-date for an unforgettable experience, ending with the Father-Daughter Dance at Piper's Opera House.Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry Cooks from around the west fry, smoke or grill and embellish these delectable concoctions in ways that give thousands of visitors a new appreciation for tasty testes.Virginia City Grand Prix This annual two-day event is one of the largest and most competitive off road motorcycle races in the west, and draws more than 1,000 racers to Virginia City to battle the rough terrain.Chili on the Comstock Enjoy flavorful varieties of chili along C Street as more than 30 of the best chili cooks in the west feed the multitudes and compete for a spot in the International Chili Society World Finals.Taste of the Comstock Savor the delicious food from Virginia City's fine restaurants, sip whiskey and smoke a cigar in the Whiskey Tent and tour the city's Museums.4th of July The Virginia City streets are lined with red, white and blue for this annual day-long celebration that includes a big parade train rides, old-west shootouts, a concert and a lavish fireworks display at dark.Hot August Nights This famous classic car gathering kicks off in historic Virginia City as hundreds of cars parade down C Street each day. Live music, a poker run, nightly cruises and a celebrity Show-n-Shine.The Way It Was Rodeo This rodeo is unlike anything ever seen on the Comstock. The Flying U Rodeo brings a weekend of family fun with bull riders, wild broncs, kids’ mutton bustin’, jump motorcycles and more.Civil War Days Epic battles rage in Virginia City each Labor Day weekend — even right in the middle of C Street as part of the Labor Day Parade. Ride the evening V&T champagne train and watch the battle in comfort.International Camel Races Camels, ostriches and zebras race around the Virginia City Arena & Fairgrounds with jockeys precariously perched on their backs in this fabulous, world-famous and hilarious family event.Street Vibrations Virginia City plays host to this raucous celebration of music, metal and motorcycles each fall as thousands of bikers ride to the Comstock for good food and live entertainment.World Championship Outhouse Races Immediately following the Parade of Outhouses at noon, teams of three costumed outhouse racers zip down C Street to see who can hit the toilet paper finish line quickest.Hauntober During October Virginia City celebrates its ghostly history with a month of ghost experiences with Bats in the Belfry Ghost Tours, the V & T Railroad Halloween train and the Virginia City Goblin Parade.Christmas on the Comstock This old mining city feels like a real-life Christmas book with lights and decorated shops, unique boutique shopping, specials, a lighted Christmas parade and the Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl.