Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City, Nevada
Virginia City
—  CDP  —
Virginia City is located in Nevada
Virginia City
Location within the state of Nevada
Coordinates: 39°18′37″N 119°38′58″W / 39.31028°N 119.64944°W / 39.31028; -119.64944Coordinates: 39°18′37″N 119°38′58″W / 39.31028°N 119.64944°W / 39.31028; -119.64944
Country United States
State Nevada
County Storey
Elevation 6,150 ft ft (1,874.52 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 – Total 855
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 – Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID

Virginia City is a census-designated place (CDP)[1] that is the county seat of Storey County, Nevada. It is part of the RenoSparks Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 855 at the 2010 Census.



View of Virginia City, Nevada, from a nearby hillside, 1867-68
View of Virginia City from Boot Hill

Virginia City is one of the oldest established communities in Nevada. Folklore indicates that the town got its name from a man named James Finney who was nicknamed "Old Virginy". Finney was credited with discovering the Comstock Lode. His real name was James Fennimore, and he had fled his home state of Virginia after killing a man.

Like many cities and towns in the state, Virginia City was a mining boomtown; it appeared virtually overnight as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859.

Location of Virginia City, Nevada

During its peak, Virginia City had a population of over 30,000 residents and was called the richest city in America.[2] During the 20 years following the Comstock success "about $400 million was taken out of the ground."[3]

When the Comstock Lode ended in 1898, the city's population declined sharply. Most of the miners who came to the city were Cornish or Irish.[4]

Mining operations were hindered due to extreme temperatures in the mines caused by natural hot springs. The miners would snowshoe to work and then descend into the high temperatures. This contributed to a low life expectancy. Adolph Sutro built the Sutro Tunnel in support of the mining operations. The tunnel drained the water to the valley below (Carson City). Conceived in 1860, it was not completed until many years later, after much of the silver had been mined. From its creation in 1859 to 1875, there were five widespread fires. The 1875 fire, dubbed the Great Fire of 1875, caused $12 million in damages.[5]

Virginia City and Mark Twain

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 2,345
1870 7,048 200.6%
1880 10,917 54.9%
1890 6,433 −41.1%
1900 2,695 −58.1%
1910 2,244 −16.7%
1920 1,200 −46.5%
1930 590 −50.8%
1940 500 −15.3%
1950 500 0%
1960 610 22.0%
1970 600 −1.6%
1980 600 0%
1990 920 53.3%
2000 1,500 63.0%
2010 855 −43.0%

Virginia City could be considered the "birthplace" of Mark Twain, as it was here in February 1863[7] that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name.[8] Virginia City historical documents state that Clemens was mugged on November 10, 1863, as he walked over the hill from the south while returning to Virginia City. The muggers relieved Clemens of his watch and his money. The robbery turns out to have been a practical joke played on Clemens by his friends, to give him material to write about. He did not appreciate the joke, but did retrieve his belongings - especially his gold watch (worth $300) and which had great sentimental value as well.[9] Clemens mentioned the incident in his book Roughing It, (published Feb 1872) – and was still sore about it.

Virginia City today

Historic District

Virginia City was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[10][11] This in effect created a Virginia City Historic District.

Today Virginia City draws over 2 million visitors per year. It is the nation's largest[2] National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Main street view, October 2009

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad's northern terminus is located at Virginia City. A project was started in 1977 to begin rebuilding one of the nations "crookedest railroads." The portion of line that has been rebuilt so far stretches south to Carson City, Nevada, and through Gold Hill. The project ran the first steam engine from Carson City on September 5, 2009. Meanwhile, other trains are pulled by historic locomotives between Virginia City and Gold Hill, attracting thousands of tourists each year.

Town life

The population of Virginia City is 1,000 people in the town. 4,000 live in Storey County. It has one elementary school (Hugh Gallagher Elementary School), one middle school (Virginia City Middle School) and one high school (Virginia City High School). Many locals work at the shops in town that cater to tourists, while others seek jobs in the surrounding cities.

Virginia City Hillclimb

There is an annual hillclimb that runs from Silver City to Virginia City via Highway 341 (a truck route) that is put on jointly between the Ferrari Club of America Pacific Region and the Northern California Shelby Club. Originally the event was put on by the SCCA and took the same route. Highway 342 is now the return route for cars that have completed their runs up Highway 341. The hillclimb covers 5.2 miles (8.4 km), climbing 1,260 feet (380 m) and passing through 21 corners.


Virginia City is home to several buildings and artifacts that remain from the time it was a boom town. Among them are the Bucket of Blood saloon, the old globe, the Silver Queen, and the suicide table. Occasionally a gunfight is acted out.

Notable residents

  • John Brayshaw Kaye - poet and politician, worked in the town in the 19th century.
  • Albert Abraham Michelson - who became the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics (1907) grew up in this rough mining town, where his father was a merchant.
  • Julia Bulette - (1832–1867), English-born prostitute and madam.
  • Harold A. Henry, Los Angeles City Council president, born here
  • Charles Clegg, an American author, photographer, and railroad historian.
  • Lucius Beebe, an American author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist.

In popular culture

Many tons of rich gold and silver ore such as the example shown here, built and supported Virginia City
  • Virginia City is near the site of the fictitious Ponderosa Ranch on the Western television drama Bonanza. As such, the show's characters made visits to the town regularly – or at least to the flat Hollywood backlot town.
  • It was the locale of the 1940 film Virginia City, set during the Civil War, and starring Errol Flynn.
  • Virginia City und die wahre Geschichte des Wilden Westens, directed by Elmar Bartlmae, is a 2007 German documentary film.[12]
  • In 2004, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin filmed their paranormal investigations at reportedly haunted locations in Virginia City for their 2006 documentary Ghost Adventures.

"Darcy Farrow", a folk song written by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell[disambiguation needed ], mentions Virginia City and other places and landmarks in the area (including Yerington, the Carson Valley, and the Truckee River). The most popular version was performed by John Denver.

The Red Dog Saloon was where the likes of Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans and other era musicians got their starts in the 1960s.


St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church
  1. ^ a b United States Census Bureau. "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010". American Fact Finder. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Rinella, p. 73
  3. ^ Thomson, p.26
  4. ^ Payton, Philip, Making Moonta: The Invention of Australia's Little Cornwall
  5. ^ Snell and Larew, pg.2, 8, 9
  6. ^ Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 159.
  7. ^ Thomson, p. 35
  8. ^ Rinella, p. 78
  9. ^ Powers, Ron, Mark Twain: A Life. Free Press, 2005, p. 167. ISBN
  10. ^ "Virginia City Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  11. ^ Charles Snell and Marilynn Larew (April 21, 1978) (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Virginia City Historic District. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22  and Accompanying 50 or so photos from 1968, 1971, 1978 and other dates. PDF (8.81 MB)
  12. ^ On Arte-TV, May 26th, 2007, in German. Retrieved 18 November 2009


  • Rinella, Heidi Knapp, Off The Beaten Path: Nevada, Guildford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7627-4204-2
  • Thomson, David, In Nevada: The Land, The People, God, and Chance, New York: Vintage Books, 2000. ISBN 0-679-77758-X

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Virginia City (Nevada) — Virginia City Lugar designado por el censo de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Virginia City (Nevada) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Virginia City. 39° 18′ 37″ N 119° 38′ 57″ W …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McCarthy House (Virginia City, Nevada) — McCarthy House U.S. National Register of Historic Places …   Wikipedia

  • Virginia City — Ladenpassage in der City Lage von Virginia City in Nevada …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Virginia City (disambiguation) — Virginia City is a city located in Storey County, Nevada.Virginia City may also refer to: * Virginia City, Montana * Virginia City, Nevada * Virginia City, Virginia * Virginia City (film), a 1940 film starring Errol Flynn …   Wikipedia

  • Virginia City Historic District — Infobox nrhp | name =Virginia City Historic District nrhp type =nhld caption = location= Virginia City, Nevada, USA locmapin = Nevada area = built =1859 architect= Unknown architecture= Bungalow/craftsman, Late Victorian designated= July 4,… …   Wikipedia

  • Virginia City (film) — Infobox Film name = Virginia City imdb id = 0033226 director = Michael Curtiz writer = Robert Buckner (play) Howard Koch (uncredited) Norman Reilly Raine (uncredited) starring = Errol Flynn Miriam Hopkins Randolph Scott Humphrey Bogart Frank… …   Wikipedia

  • Virginia City (Montana) — Virginia City Lage in Montana …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Virginia City (Begriffsklärung) — Virginia City ist der Name folgender Städte: Virginia City, Stadt im Storey County, Nevada Virginia City (Montana), Stadt im Bundesstaat Montana Virginia City (Virginia), Stadt im Bundesstaat Virginia Virginia City (Film), Film von 1940 mit Errol …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Virginia City —   [və dʒɪnjə sɪtɪ],    1) Stadt in Südwestmontana, USA, 150 km südlich von Helena, 1 775 m über dem Meeresspiegel, 200 Einwohner.   Stadtbild:   Zum Teil restaurierte Häuser der Ghosttown sind heute Anziehungspunkt des Fremdenverkehrs.  … …   Universal-Lexikon

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