Virginia City, Nevada, is an old mining town, near Carson, pretty close to Lake Tahoe, that is extremely fun to visit, and worth the hilly drive, especially if you have never seen an Old West town. The population is approximately 855 residents.
Since the road in is long with twists and turns, be wise about the day you pick to go. (And think about how much harder it was for the miners!)
You can tour an actual mine, watch an Old West show, shop at specialty stores, get an old-fashioned portrait taken, and, best of all, see the actual desk where Mark Twain began his career as a journalist for the Territorial Enterprise. It is in the cellar of a souvenir shop, and, for a small fee, a shopkeeper will lead you down the stairway so you can see it.
Being underground, it can be a bit damp and chilly down there, but you will see the kinds of equipment and tools they used back then to print a newspaper, as well as an unusual contraption or two showing what life was really like.
The news was, of course, essential for people who sought after this remote town to make a fortune, whether for their employers or their families back home. Ironically, Mark Twain said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”
When we were there, a sudden hailstorm swept over the whole town. One minute, shoppers were enjoying a sunny day, the next minute they were ducking for cover. (The indoor mine tour is a great place to be at a time like that!)
Find out more about Twain on our Connecticut and Missouri pages. And, since Virginia City is not too far from the California border, you might also consider visiting the Mark Twain Cabin in the Tuttletown area. It is not the original cabin where Twain was a guest, but it was reconstructed at the original location.
This is the second stop on our Nevada Trail!