While I was in middle school, I was lucky enough to become friends with a girl in band class by the name of Heather. We both played flute in Ms. Hoell class. Not only were we friends, but our parents became great friends. Thankfully, we are all still friends today. During two of the summers in middle school Heather’s mom, Mary, and her stepfather, Brian, invited me to go out west with them. One summer involved us go to California and Idaho. Another summer had us visiting California again, the Grand Canyon, Reno, Yellowstone National Park, and Virginia City.
I, sadly, don’t remember much of visiting Virginia City. I remember Mary was excited to visit it because Bonanza was filmed there. Brian wanted to go to a saloon there called Bucket O’ Blood Saloon to get a family member a mug from there. I remember me and Heather walking around the town. It felt old there. I could feel the history there even though it looked like an old tourist trap to my teenager eyes.
In 1859, two Irish immigrants named James McLaughlin and Peter O’Riley discovered silver deposits in area near where Virginia City would later spring up. Unfortunately, McLaughlin and O’Riley were tricked out of their share of the discovery by a con artist named Henry T. P. Comstock. Prospectors from all of the world would come to these mines looking for fortune. Out these mining camps, sprung up Virginia City in 1862. The town claims it received its name when James “Old Virginny Finney” Fennimore tripped at the a saloon entrance which caused him to break a bottle of whiskey. The mine produced over $300 million in mineral deposits. Due to the wealth being poured into the city from the miners that lived there, Virginia City became a city that rivaled the likes of San Fransisco. The silver from the mines is even credited with saving the Union during the Civil War. The local paper was edited by Samuel Clemens before he moved on to California to begin his career as a writer by the name of Mark Twain.
In 1875, what would be known as the Great Fire started at Crazy Kate’s boarding house and quickly spread through the town. The strong winds and buildings made of dry timber helped the fire to move quickly through town. The fire was so great that even the mines were filled with smoke. By the end, over 8,000 were homeless and over $10 million in damage had been done. In the West, when a fire burned through a city, that was typically the death of the city but Virginia City not only managed to hold on, it was rebuilt in less than a year.
At it’s peak, the population of Virginia City was about 25,000 residents and over 100 saloons. By 1930, only 667 residents were left. Between the 1930’s and 1950’s, Virginia City became a retreat to writers and artists. In 1959, a television show named Bonanza began to film there. Interest in the town began to boom again as the town became a tourist destination.
Its hard to go any where in Virginia City without coming across a ghost story or two. Even the Bucket O’ Blood Saloon is said to be haunted by one of the owners, Donald. Even Johnny Depp has talked about how he saw the ghost little girl in white dress named Elizabeth running Mackay Mansion while he was in town filming Dead Men.
Silver Terrace Cemetery is a beautiful cemetery on the side of a hill. Visitors there report seeing glowing headstones and blue lights floating among the headstones. Some have reported seeing a little running around. She is said to suddenly disappear behind headstones.
At what use to be St Mary Louise Hospital, visitors claim to see the ghost of a man who died in a fire. Other have said to witness a man sitting in a wheelchair in the corner of a room. The hospital is now St Mary Art Center.
Piper’s Opera House has several ghosts as well. Originally opened as Maguire’s Opera House, the building has burnt down twice. Once during the Great Fire and again six years later. Its often reported to hear voices on stage when no one is talking. A woman’s ghost has been seen on several occasions walking around the balcony. Ghosts have also been viewed sitting in the balcony as if they are watching a show on stage. One of the owners, John Piper, has been seen smoking a pipe in a window on the second story. Mr. Piper as also been viewed sitting in the theater’s box seats.
The oldest hotel in Nevada, The Gold Hill Hotel, is said to haunted by an owner and his housekeeper. The owner, William, haunts room five while his housekeeper haunts room four. Rosie likes to turn the lights on and off or move guests’ personal belongings when they aren’t looking. Guests have reported smelling her perfume in the room as well. William surprises guests with the smell of cigar smoke, sitting on their bed, or locking them out of their room.
The Washoe Club seems to have a ghost story for every floor in the building. In the basement the ghost of a 13 year old girl who was murdered there has been seen. On the spiral staircase going up to the second floor, the ghost of a prostitute named Lena is seen walking upstairs in a blue dress. The 13 year old who was murdered in the basement is also seen in a window on the second floor from time to time. On the third floor is a six foot tall shadow figure that is the ghost of an old man who killed himself in the 1990’s.
The Silver Queen Hotel, a prostitute named Rosie is seen wandering the halls. She is said to have killed herself in the hotel. Guests have heard doorknobs twist, tapping on their doors, and loud footsteps on what sounds like wooden floors but the floors are carpeted.
At the old courthouse, the ghost of Peter Larkin is said to be haunting the grounds. Mr. Larkin was accused of murder. His lover at the time, Nelly, turned on him and lied about what happened. Peter was sentenced to hanging behind the court. People have reported hearing him cry around the courthouse.
WANT TO SEE THE GHOST FOR YOURSELF?
If you are wanting to see some of the ghosts in Virginia, please check out a great tour company in Virginia City for history and the paranormal is Bats In The Belfry Ghost Tours. It’s best to contact them through their Facebook page. Please be sure to let them know The Paranormal Housewife sent you over there.
Please let me if you been to Virginia City. I would love to hear of your adventures there, whether they involve the living or the dead, in the comments below.
In tomorrow’s post we are off to the East Coast to an area where its just as haunted across the border as it is in States.