Sunday, January 5, 2014

Virginia City and Mark Twain

So this is a second post to the Lights of Winter. Sadly many of the photos in this post also look like they're from the summer even though I took most of them on December 29th (Sunday) or around New Years. To fill in some references, Virginia City, Nevada is actually very famous for many reasons. I know most, if not all of you, have heard of the author Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer). He started his writing career in Virginia City, even though his name comes from the Mississippi River (2000 miles - 3000+ km) away. It was this city that he first worked in a newspaper and published his works. This city is also famous for the silver (серебр) mined here. There was so much silver that you could walk through the mud and it would cover your boots and you'd be wealthy. Seriously. A couple hundred years ago silver was expensive and only the wealthy could afford it. It is because of Virginia City that silver is cheap all over the world today. Moreover, gold (золото) would also be very cheap if Nevada put all of it's gold on the market. However, they learned from the silver industry not to do that. Goldhill, NV shares a border with Virginia City (less than 1km) and the two of them could put vast amounts (lots of) gold and silver onto the world market. That would be bad for business though. To make it more international, the silver of Virginia City is what built San Francisco (the wealth, the banks, the arts, everything came from the silver of VC). After the fire in 1906 burned down most of San Francisco, it was the gold of Goldhill, NV that rebuilt San Fran. The vast majority of the wealth of SF came from these two small mining towns in Nevada near where I grew up.

Anyway, Daria had never been to Virginia City despite 10 years of us being together, so we went there. It's about 1 hour from where I grew up/my parents live. I went there a lot as a child, for fun with my parents, for school, and for various church and scout events.

This is about 10 km out of the city. We must drive up into the mountains. However, this is a great view of rural Nevada.

A house on the outskirts of the city.

You can see where part of the mountain is blown away so that it could be mined.

A view of the very small, very rural Virginia City from about 1km away on the road.

Same place but I zoomed the camera in. The steeple is the Catholic Church in town.

A closer view of the mountain that was blown away to be mined.

As we enter Virginia City. The building in the middle (white and red) is the school (used to be all grades, now only elementary).

Entering Virginia City.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church. One of the first Episcopal Churches in Nevada. I spent quite a bit of time here as a child when I was growing up. My dad is a priest so we did various things here when meetings happened. I also remember flirting with some girls when I was 12, 13, or 14, in the back of this church.

A house near the church. This is what a 19th century western town house looked like. This would be for more wealthy people like lawyers or doctors. Definitely not the miners. Miners lived is houses that were more run down and falling apart.

This is inside the Catholic Church (I did not get a photo inside the Episcopal Church). I like the wooden lattice work for the archways.

The Catholic Church (right) and the Episcopal Church (left). Do not be fooled. While the Catholic church is bigger, in this picture it is closer too. The Episcopal church is not that small compared to the Catholic one. However, both are some of the earliest churches in Nevada and therefore both are historical buildings. Many famous politicians and authors and other famous people are buried in the cemeteries of both churches.

This is the back of a general store and Mark Twain's bookstore. "Comstock" is a common term for many things in this area of NV and CA, mostly because of the mining that happened here. To be called "Comstock Corner" was a big honor.

This is from main street Virginia City, and what an old western town looked like.

Another view. Ponderosa Pines are special trees in the area and anything named Ponderosa is important. This saloon (bar) is important in the city, and inside this bar a person can take a tour of the mines that go inside the mountain (see below).

A view of the old firehouse.

Another view of mainstreet.

And another view of historical Virginia City. Gunfights happen here (now fake and for fun/entertainment, but they used to happen here in the 19th century - many people shot each other over trivial things).

Another view of the firehouse. For those who remember town buildings (from your intermediate book), this is a real firehouse, not the cartoon.

An old railroad car, now office, of the Virginia-Truckee railroad. This was a very famous railroad in the Western United States. Very famous. And it is in some of Mark Twain's stories.

A picture of the boardwalk as it was in the 19th century. Boardwalk is an old term for sidewalk because it was made of wooden boards.

A sign of the Tahoe Hotel. We are in Virginia City, but it had a special relationship with Lake Tahoe and so the hotel was named after the lake.

The mining company where ore was melted into metal.

A view from on top of one hill to another hill showing there still is snow in the winter at Virginia City. The sign tells us there is a gold mine nearby.

A view of the post office on the left, the railcar (now office mentioned above of the Virginia-Truckee railroad) on the right, the firehouse on the right, and main street down the middle.

A very old steam engine used to haul ore and mining things out to the bigger cities.

To prove Daria came to Virginia City, a famous town of Nevada, and the Western United States.

To prove I was there too. Not just a cameraman.

So famous there's a casino named after Mark Twain.

And a museum of his stuff. Seriously, Mark Twain and Virginia City go hand-in-hand like the Neva River and St. Petersburg. They go together.

The museum is down in the basement. This building is the old publisher of the newspaper where Mark Twain started his writing career. He first published at this newspaper and wrote many of his stories in this basement. This is a wall as you walk down the stairs into the basement.

A picture of the man himself.

Daria checking out some of his stuff.

A photo of random stuff on the walls (and painting of MT in the lower right).

His books in a museum case. The early copies of his works.

More of his stuff with a picture of him in the upper right and a copy of Tom Sawyer in the lower right.

The printing press he used when he was publishing the Virginia City newspaper.

Looking at more stuff.

The telephone switchboard. I don't know what it is doing here, but it was in the museum.

A badger and some printing materials.

An old typecase that once held the letters of an old printing press for the papers he made.


A proof printing press. This was used to make 1-2 copies to be proofed and corrections made before they printed the full paper to deliver around town.

Various machines he used when printing the paper.

Quotes of Mark Twain and more typecases as above.

The same.

Some old copies of the Virginia City Chronicle (the newspaper that Mark Twain published). Sadly, these are from after he died and someone else printed them, but they're still old.



An old toilet from the 19th century. Mark Twain pissed and shat here. We were not allowed to sit where MT sat. The small hole is where one could put their cigarette or cigar if they smoked while using the toilet. MT loved cigars so I'm sure he used it.

Various letters and documents are the next few pictures. Some are banknotes or bank statements.

This is an old copper still used to make whisky. I don't know if Twain used it or not, but someone in Virginia City used this to make booze.

And old typewriter.

More old artifacts.

I like this only because I think the movie in the above advertisement was one of the best short films of the early 20th century. Not something Twain did, just a great film.

We're going to the famous "Bucket of Blood" Saloon (bar).

Another famous saloon. The suicide table and the world globe are both things to see if you visit.

Daria and I enter the mine at the Ponderosa Saloon (see above).

Inside the mine.

A drill from the early 20th century. Used compressed air. Quite dangerous. Not nearly as awesome as when they used the manual drills over someone's shoulder and completely in the dark. Oh well.

A good view of the lanterns and ladder (used to escape when trouble came).

Rocks and ore dug from the mine.

Guns from the old west. That is all.

A map of Virginia City and Lake Tahoe. North is to the left, east to the top, south to the right, and west/the Lake to the bottom. That is my home, where I grew up.

A view of the Delta Saloon from the inside. The guy on the left is dressed like from the 19th century. Most people are dressed like rural Nevadans.

The suicide table. 3 casino owners committed suicide on this table.

Zoom in and try and read if you can.

My parents listening to a local country music group. They're a good group, but this bar was too loud for the type of music. (It was the Bucket of Blood mentioned above).

Daria and I, as we're captured in the mirror inside the Washoe Club Saloon (oldest Saloon in Virginia City).

December 31st, New Years Eve. My best friend from childhood, Greg Salyards, Daria, and I as we prepare to venture out and celebrate the new year.

An ice sculpture in Lake Tahoe, in Heavenly Village. See previous blog post about the Village/ski resort.

An ice sculpture of a bear.

The band that performed for the New Years Eve party at Heavenly Village. They were not very good.

Sadly, neither was the firegroup. They're spinning fire, but only the 2 women were good. The 4 men were terrible. It was fun to see, but for Tahoe on NYE I expected more. This was a performance for a non-famous place for a summer beer fest, not the famous Tahoe NYE.

Ahh, but new years did happen with some great fireworks.

And there was a beautiful ice sculpture of 2014.

In my hometown of Minden, NV, there is a small park that is the center of town. This is the gazebo all lit up with a tree on the left, and Santa flying his sleigh on the right. We took Karma there to run around. I like this park a lot and during the summer there are many festivals here. During the winter, there are a few, but less so. It is still a nice place to be and good for people to gather and do things.

A better view of Santa's sleigh.

And a better view of the gazebo with the nutcracker in the front center.

A better view of the tree with a horse kneeling in front.

And this is a picture of the old down town where all the city offices are. The town hall is on the right. I registered to vote there when I turned 18 and could vote. Various political groups meet there. It is empty in the picture, but is quite important for small town events throughout the year.

And a picture sent from Greg, my buddy. This is New Years in Tahoe at 9pm western time (12am - New Years, New York time - they scheduled the time of all the events to be with NY probably so kids can go to bed and parents can gamble in the casinos). It was anti-climatic, but hey, we had fun anyway. Much love to all of you, and a happy new year!!!!

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