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[graphic] Three Historic Nevada Cities Carson City, Reno, Virginia City A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[photo] Aerial view of Virginia City in 1877
Photo courtesy of Terri McBride
In 1859, placer miners and prospectors in the western Great Basin made two remarkable strikes of gold and silver ore breaching a mountain's slope near Virginia City. The Comstock Lode, as people soon called the ore body, generated a spectacular amount of wealth and established Virginia City as a place on the map. Unlike the small settlements throughout California's Gold Country, Nevada's Comstock District was a highly urbanized, industrial setting, and established a model that all future mining developments generally followed. By the early 1870s, the mining district's capital, Virginia City, together with its smaller neighbor, Gold Hill, reached a population of nearly 25,000, becoming one of the nation's larger communities. Virginia City was decimated by the Great Fire of October 25, 1875, which swept through the city and left nearly 10,000 homeless, but residents were quick to rebuild in the booming economy.

[photo] View of C St. from 1877
Photo courtesy of Terri McBride

However, by the 1890s, it was becoming clear that the good times were over. It had been years since miners had discovered any new bonanzas, and thousands of people were leaving for better opportunities. By the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Virginia City had declined, shrinking into a town of only several hundred people. The town today is a remarkable collection of 19th-century buildings, abandoned shafts and adits (an almost horizontal entrance to a mine), and thousands of historic archeological sites that convey the rich heritage of this remarkable mining district, recognized as one of just six National Historic Landmarks in the state of Nevada.

Learn more about the historic district's history in our essay about Virginia City.

The Virginia City Historic District includes the populated settlements of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and Dayton, as well as open land dotted with historic and archeological features associated with mining activities. The district includes almost 400 buildings and covers 14,750 acres. For information on sites that are open to the public, visit the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority website for further information.

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 [graphic] link to Carson City Essay
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