Virginia City, Nevada: June, 2002

Virginia City is located 23 miles south of Reno, Nevada, at an elevation of approximately 6,200 ft. It is sited on the east side of Mount Davidson (7,864 ft.) in the Virginia range of mountains. The Virginia Range is located directly east of the Washoe Valley and is 20 miles east of the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Silver was first discovered in the Virginia City area in 1859. By 1860, Virginia City was a booming mining community, and over the years, large quantities of silver ore, worth approximately $400,000,000 in 19th Century dollars, were laboriously extracted from the mines. At its peak, Virginia City had a population of more than 30,000 people. Mark Twain was a newspaperman from 1862-1864 at the Territorial Express, a daily newspaper in Virginia City. His book, 'Roughing It,' published in 1872, contains a classic account of Virginia City during the early 1860's. The discovery of silver in Virginia City accelerated the Territory of Nevada into becoming the 36th State of the Union in 1864.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad was put into operation in 1870. Its primary mission was to haul silver ore from the mines to be processed into pure silver at the stamp mills located 10 miles south of Virginia City on the Carson River, east of Carson City, the state capital. The US government constructed the Carson City, Nevada mint to process some of the Virginia City silver into coins of the realm; the mint was in service from 1870 to 1893. Adolph Sutro started the construction of the Sutro Tunnel in 1869 and it was completed in 1878. It is 3.8-miles in length, and was primarily built to drain the millions of gallons of hot water from the Virginia City mines that infiltrated from underground water sources.

There were more than 400 miles of tunnels and shafts excavated under the Virginia City area; the deepest mine shaft, which is still open to the ground, extends more than 3,000 ft below the surface of the earth. The miner's working conditions were very difficult. The temperature in the mines commonly reached 120º, and in some of the mines the temperature reached 160º. There was no electricity to illuminate the working areas; all lighting was by candlelight. Oxygen in the mines was limited, and fire was a constant danger. In 1873, the Yellow Jacket Mine caught on fire, and more than 25 men perished in the blaze. There was also an above ground fire in 1875 that destroyed a large portion of Virginia City. The townspeople rapidly rebuilt the destroyed buildings and the mining continued, unabated by the catastrophe, 24 hours a day. By the 1890's Virginia City had passed its peak of silver ore removal, and begun its rapid descent into the annals of illustrious mining history. Today, Virginia City has a population of approximately 500 people.

All Images and Text Copyright © by Neil Mishalov

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On Geiger Grade heading towards Virginia City. Rain storm with Reno in the distance Geiger Grade Historical Marker Old section of Geiger Grade
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Old section of Geiger Grade Old section of Geiger Grade Historical Marker at Virginia City
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The isolated Hebrew Cemetery The Hebrew cemetery The Hebrew cemetery
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The only standing tombstone in the Hebrew Cemetery Mine debris from the Sierra Nevada Mine in the background Mine debris from the Sierra Nevada Mine
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My trusty steed. Heading for Virginia City from the Hebrew Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery
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The Catholic Cemetery The Catholic Cemetery Original wooden marker plus replica stone marker
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Looking west from the Catholic Cemetery The Catholic Cemetery The Catholic Cemetery
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The Catholic Cemetery Looking south at Virginia City from the Catholic Cemetery The Catholic Cemetery
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Looking east at the Catholic Cemetery from the Masonic Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery Desert flower in the cemetery
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At the Masonic Cemetery looking north at mine debris from the Union Shaft The Masonic Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery
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The Masonic Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery The Masonic Cemetery
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The Volunteer Fireman's Cemetery The Volunteer Fireman's Cemetery Looking south at Virginia City from the Fireman's Cemetery
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The remnants of what I believe to be a stamp mill on Six Mile Canyon Road. Located 1 mile east of Virginia City There were 1,000's of these somewhat large flying insects all over the area View of Virginia City from the Combined Mine. In the center is the mine dump from the Savage Mine
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View of Virginia City from the Combined Mine. In the center of the photo is the mine dump fron the Chollar and Julia Mines View of Virginia City from the Combined Mine. In the center background is the 4th Ward Public School built in 1867 View of the Mint Mine dump from the Combined Mine
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The Combined hoisting equipment The Combined hoisting equipment The Combined hoisting shack
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Inside the Combined hoisting shack Close-up of the Combined hoising equipment. Below this stone work is an open 3,000 ft shaft. Please be careful! Inside the Chollar Mine
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Some mining equipment in the Chollar Mine Some mining equipment in the Chollar Mine An example of the 4 Square supporing woodwork that was used in all of the mines. The immense quanity of lumber that was needed denuded much of Lake Tahoe
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Some mining equipment in the Chollar Mine Old Virginia & Truckee passenger station Old house on B Street, Virginia City
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Above Virginia City. Catholic Church in the distance Above Virginia City. Catholic Church in the distance Above Virginia City. Brick hospital in the distance
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Mine entrance above Virginia City Above Virginia City. Episcopal and Catholic Churchs in the distance Above Virginia City, looking west
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Above Virginia City, looking north. Cemeteries in the center of the picture The East Yellow Jacket mine Mine remnants at Silver City
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Mine remnants at Silver City Mine remnants at Silver City Mine remnants at Silver City
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Mine remnants at Silver City Devil's Gate Historical Marker Devil's Gate from the south looking north.
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Devil's Gate from the north looking south. There was a toll house at this location to collect a fee from men and material heading to or from Virginia City Virginia & Truckee Railroad logo Train ride on the V&T line from Virginia City to Gold Hill and back. Distance:2 miles round trip
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Heading under the truck route. Originally this was tunnel #5 Going under the old ore dumper woodwork of the East Yellow Jacket Mine Heading towards tunnel # 4
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About to enter tunnel # 4 Bypassing the collapsed tunnel # 3 Train crossing the road in Gold Hill
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Gold Hill Train Station Heading back to Virginia City. Bypassing collapsed tunnel # 3 Train cars waiting to be refurbished
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Panoramic view of Gold Hill diggings Open pit mine in Gold Hill. This mine was started in the 1980's when the price of gold was at $800 per ounce Open pit mine in Gold Hill. This mine was started in the 1980's when the price of gold was at $800 per ounce
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East Yellow Jacket mine Silver City with the original road on the left (Very steep with up to a 15% grade in sections) and truck road on the right. Both roads go to Virginia City The Ward Mine debris dump
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Silver City Osbiston Shaft Mine dump in Virginia City 4th Ward School from the truck road
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Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church. 1876 Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church. 1876 Saint Marys in the Mountains Catholic Church. 1876
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Virginia City Court House. Notice that the figure representing justice is not blindfolded. 1876 Saint Johns Episcopal Church. 1876 4th Ward Public School. 1867
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1980's open pit mine across from 4th Ward School Virginia City Miners Union Hall C Street, Virginia City
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A sign at a self storage facility on Highway 50, just east of Carson City



Christian Lopez is a native of Reno, Nevada. He is a marvelous songwriter, a great musician, and he has an CD of songs available. Four of the songs on the album are about Virginia City, Nevada, and they are both sweet and sorrowful. Christian has generously allowed this site to feature a song from his album. The song is titled "One Fine Spring Day," and you can listen to the entire song by clicking: ONE FINE SPRING DAY . You can buy the Christian Lopez CD "Down By The Drowning Creek" by going to his web site CHRISTIAN LOPEZ.COM


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This page created, and all photographs copyright 2002, by Neil Mishalov neil@mishalov.com on 5 July 2002.