The Capper Nomads North America Adventure travel blog

View across the Reno Valley to Mt Rose

Part of the old red light district

The old firehouse

Miners Hall

Old State Capitol

The new Nevada State Legislature Building

We were now into a heat wave as we headed out to visit Virginia City. The road to Virginia City gave us magnificent views of Mount Rose Mountain and the Reno valley. Virginia City used to be the richest gold producing area in the United States.

Gold was first found in Gold Canyon south of Virginia City by the Grosh brothers. Soon more gold deposits were found at the top of Gold Canyon in January 1859 by James Finney, known as “Old Virginny” and Henry Comstock. The early mining was done by the placer mining method of washing the dirt from around the small pieces of gold found in creeks. Later the gold veins were followed underground by digging shafts and tunnels to follow the veins of gold.

Early mining claims were very crude and a lot of gold was lost due to inefficient refining techniques. The miners were continuously bothered by a blue-grey clay that clogged their equipment. It was later found to be silver ore and almost as valuable as the gold.

The discovery of gold and silver here brought many people to the area which became known as the “Comstock” Load named after Henry Comstock. “Old Virginny” sold his original gold claim for about $50.00 and later died in 1861 a poor man. The town of Virginia City was named after him.

In its heyday there were over 20,000 claims and over 30,000 people living in the area. As the wealth from the claims materialised Virginia City became quite a place with hotels, opera house, restaurants etc. From 1859 to 1919 there was over 700 million dollars in gold and silver taken from the mines of the Comstock Lode.

Today the population is less than a thousand and few original building remain, many of which are souvenir or tourist orientated places. It was interesting to see.

From Virginia City we drove to Carson City named after frontier explorer Kit Carson in 1858. Carson City is the state capital of Nevada. Here we wandered around the gardens of the state capitol buildings enjoying the warm weather.

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