Dave was looking forward to a morning of watching the Monaco Grand Prix before we met up with the family to head to Virginia City, unfortunately, during travel, one of the vital connectors (I don’t even pretend to understand this stuff) had come loose, so there was no recording. He spent the morning, instead, figuring out how to download it off the internet - clearly, missing it altogether was not an option!
We wound our way over the mountain to Virginia City in a 3-car line. This is a historic city, once, most famously, a home for miners during the gold rush and quite the bed of iniquity back then. It is now a pretty, little, tourist town with a lot of its old-world charm still intact. Fully costumed couples wander along the streets, posing for tips, mixed in with the myriad of families and bikers – quite an eclectic mix!
We had a look at the old fire engine museum before getting tickets for the mine tour, now in the back of the Ponderosa Saloon. This mine was established in the middle of two existing mines which were both doing incredibly well, the assumption being that this central one would exceed both of the others – not so, it hardly netted anything of worth and instead of making millionaires of the owners, left them bankrupt. Regardless, it took a long while before they gave up.
The average height of a man back then was 5’4”, so we were all ducking as we walked through the tunnel. We learned that one man would go down into the mine and fill the bucket to be pulled up by his partner, who would than fill the barrow. This kind of work was extremely strenuous and tough…and ill paid. As we walked further through, we heard how, in the early days, they would break through the walls without any powered machinery at all, having great faith in their partner to hammer the metal rod they were holding and not accidently split their head open! Even when better machinery came along to help get through the cave walls, life really didn’t improve too much in the mines.
When we were as far back as we could go, our guide, without warning, turned off the light. WOW, not even possible to make out a finger in front of our eyes, it was truly pitch-black. He lit a candle to demonstrate how much the miners would have been able to see back then. It really must have been an awful life. At one point, he explained that there was an influx of European miners who were considered to be the best in the business. They were lured over to Virginia City with the promise of much higher wages. Of course, they came, intending to send back much of their wage to family, little did they realize that in this mining town, there were a great many options for spending those well-earned dollars in other ways….
Roberta treated us to enormous ice creams from Red’s, before we continued along, ‘playing’ with the many props along the street: shutting the kids in the privy, keeping their hands away from rattle snakes, posing with the flower-wearing donkey.
At the entrance to Virginia City is the graveyard, made famous in a number of cowboy movies, Clint Eastwood was here a couple of times. It is now, sadly, looking rather neglected. Unfortunately, it has been vandalized a number of times with headstones being broken and grave sites trampled. At one time, it housed cheap, wooden headstones, along the lines of: Here lies ….. lost at Poker, shot in a fight, killed in a brawl, fought over a woman, but they have long gone, stolen, such a shame.
We spent the evening at Betsy and Harry’s house with a delicious spread for dinner. They still have an enormous amount of toys, left over from the years they took care of their older granddaughters, so the kids had a great time with their cousins, we barely saw them. Ron (Danielle’s brother) came over with his wife, Susan, and 8 month old Mason – yay, we got to hold a baby again; he is adorable, so content and easy-going. It was fun to be in a house again, so much space!
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)