Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Virginia City, Montana - A Lively Ghost Town
Perched high in the Rocky Mountains in a bowl along Alder Gulch, Virginia City got its start when gold was discovered in 1863. It all began when six prospectors were camped along a small stream shaded by alder trees. When one of the prospectors began to find small amounts of gold in his pan, the others immediately joined him and by evening, they had all found enough of the precious metal to know they had made an important strike.
In no time word of the gold find spread and within just months, Alder Gulch was filled with some 10,000 miners living in makeshift shacks, tents, caves, or simply sleeping beneath the trees.
Though the camp was a lawless and violent place filled with desperadoes, rival forces from both sides of the Civil War, and a secret Vigilante Society, it soon gained enough influence to become the Territorial Capital.
However, like many other popular mining camps of the Old West, Virginia City died when the gold began to play out.
Virginia City is now one of the most preserved “ghost towns” in the American West. In addition to the more than 200 historic buildings that are preserved for tourists, Virginia City offers a number of events for visitors that include the Heritage Days & Victorian Ball in August, the Virginia City Players’ variety productions at the Opera House, a narrow-gauge railroad, and the Brewery Follies at Montana's first brewery. Also provided for the some 70,000 visitors who come to Virginia City each year, are museums, shops, restaurants and accommodations.