Mark Twain’s desk ©Author Adventures
© Author Adventures

Mark Twain and Virginia City

Virginia City, Nevada, is an old mining town, near Carson, close to Lake Tahoe, that is fun to visit and worth the hilly and windy drive, especially if you have never seen an Old West town. The population remains small in current day.

Since the road in is long with twists and turns, be wise about the weather on the day you pick to go and be thankful you are not travelling by way of a covered wagon!

You can tour a 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 (1835-1910) began his career as a journalist for the Territorial Enterprise. It is in the cellar of a souvenir shop. For a small fee, a shopkeeper will lead you down the stairway to see it.

Being underground, it can be a bit damp and chilly down there, but you will notice the kinds of equipment and tools used 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 tour at a time like that!)

About Mark Twain

Find out more about Mark 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 Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart