I love a good ghost story. One of my favorite things to do is tour “haunted” places. Not because I think I’ll actually catch a glimpse of a ghost – it’s more about learning the history of a place.
Virginia City, Nevada is a mining town, established in 1859 when a nice deposit of silver ore was discovered. Located 35 miles southeast of Reno, this seemingly small town with a population of just 855, was a thriving boomtown at it’s peak in the mid 1870’s with around 25,000 (combined with Gold Hill) residents.
Virginia City attracts lots of tourists with it’s crumbling buildings and unique attractions. I love to visit in the evening when things quiet down. The crowds disappear and the towns quirkiness really comes through. Sure, there are a handful of bars and restaurants that stay open late, but there is a overall calmness at dusk. The air turns much cooler (the town perches at an elevation of 6,148 ft.) and there isn’t much ambient noise aside from your footsteps creaking along the wooden boardwalks.
Because of the dangerous conditions of mining in the early days, hundreds of men lost their lives prematurely here. When you hear the stories of mining accidents, deadly fires, and prostitutes commiting suicide, combined with being surrounded by buildings housing treasures from the 1800’s, it’s easy to let yourself imagine spirits running rampant.
The following photos were taken in October 2019, when the camera shop where I work hosted a “spooky” photo shoot in Virginia City. Two of my friends had graciously volunteered to model. We had arranged a shoot at the Silver Queen Hotel, but other places like the Union Brewery and the Bucket of Blood invited us to come in too. Virginia City is a very welcoming place.
There are a few guided historical/ghost related tours in VC, the most extensive being Bats in the Belfry. The tour takes you to many different locations in town and while providing plenty of history on the buildings and their former residents.
Just down the street is the neighboring town of Gold Hill. Gold Hill has a much smaller population of 191 (in 2005), but during it’s boom, there were around 8,000 residents. The Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon hosts a Haunted Ghost Tour every month. You can combine the tour with dinner at the hotel (a meal that is quite good).
On this tour the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters take you through the hotel rooms that have had reported ghost activity and the Miner’s Cabin (Where you can also stay overnight! Or two nights, since there is a two night minimum.). The Miner’s Cabin sits near the Yellow Jacket Mine, where a devastating fire took at least 35 miners lives in 1869.
These photos were taken during the ghost tour at Gold Hill.
Have you had any ghostly encounters anywhere in northern Nevada? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Also, if you come across the Carson City Ghost Walk or the Genoa Historic Tours, I would recommend these too.
If you liked this post, check out Art, Ghosts, and Mines in Central Nevada