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Virginia City, Nevada

The V&T Railroad
The V&T Railroad

Virginia City Cemetery
Virginia City Cemetery

Treats abound in Virginia City
Treats abound in Virginia City
Driving to Virginia City from Tahoe, you can't help but think how long the trip must have taken Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe* on horseback. You're grateful for your car. The road soon narrows as you leave Carson City and the tight bends in the road just outside of Gold Hill lead you to believe you've taken a wrong turn at the last fork. And suddenly you've arrived to the reason the Cartwright's made the trip: the bustling center of Virginia City.

The road is dusty so you park and head out in search of a sarsaparilla to wet your whistle. Walking down the wooden boardwalk toward the Bucket of Blood saloon, you nod a greeting at the marshal as you pass. Pushing open the swinging saloon doors, you stop dead in your tracks. The room is filled with characters from the past: miners, barmaids, gunslingers and Mark Twain, himself. You look around to find anything to get your bearings, but everything around you only confirms you have entered 1862. You decide you need something a little stronger than sarsaparilla and order the Cemetery Gin.

With drink in hand you are now on equal par with those around you. They draw you into their conversations on stories of the Comstock Lode of the mid 1800s, which produced over $400,000,000 in gold and silver. Intrigued, you order another Cemetery Gin as you are told that President Lincoln made Nevada a state in 1864 to assist with his reelection. Without taking a breath, your bar stool companion lauds on that Mark Twain began his writing career in town at the Territorial Enterprise. "Of course," he sidles up, lowers his voice and winks, "there was some fun to be had around Virginia City at the time as well. Just be sure to stop in at the Red Light Museum."

You decide it's time to move along and check on the wife and kids, see if they've found their treats at the candy store. Your wife is excited to tell you she's found some stores she wants to stop in to finish up her last minute Christmas shopping and asks if you'll take junior to the Marshall Mint to see the display of minerals and coin minting. She looks at you quizzically when you eagerly agree but she quickly turns to take advantage of the opportunity to be on her own. You and Junior head across the street to The Virginia City Jerky Company, because you both could use something substantial about now.

After lunch the two of you decide to take the trolley tour to get the lay of the land. You learn about the Way It Was Museum, filled with mining artifacts, and decide to check it out. When you're done, you meet up with your wife, who has buried herself in history at the Mark Twain Bookstore. She wants to see the St. Mary's and Mackay Mansion museums. You agree there is just too much to see in one day, and check in at the Gold Hill Hotel for the night. You're amazed to find an elk filet with blackberry and telicherry peppercorn sauce on the menu.

Over dinner, you announce that tomorrow morning you'll head out in search of the wild mustangs grazing near Virginia City Highlands. Your wife reminds you that you had planned to investigate the city's cemetery for your son's history project. You all agree to return again in the summer when you can ride the V&T Railroad, tour the Chollar Mine and pan for gold. This little side trip from Tahoe to one of the nation's historical landmarks will be your destination next summer.

*For those of you too young to know who these people are, they were fictional characters in the television series, "Ponderosa."

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