Today Rick took us up to Virginia City, the mining city of the Comstock Lode. As you can see from a drawing of the city, the mine is miles underground throughout the mountain side beneath the city. The Comstock Lode is a lode of silver ore located under the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, in the Virginia Range in Nevada (then western Utah Territory). It was the first major discovery of silver ore in the United States.
After the discovery was made public in 1859, it sparked a silver rush of prospectors to the area, scrambling to stake their claims. The discovery caused considerable excitement in California and throughout the United States, the greatest since the discovery of gold in California ten years earlier. Mining camps soon thrived in the vicinity, which became bustling centers of fabulous wealth, including Virginia City and Gold Hill.
The Comstock Lode is notable not just for the immense fortunes it generated and the large role those fortunes had in the growth of Nevada and San Francisco, but also for the advances in mining technology that it spurred, such as square set timbering and the Washoe process for extracting silver from ore. The mines declined after 1874, though underground mining continued into the 1920s, with sporadic efforts thereafter. The 1875 Great Fire destroyed most of city and it was rebuilt within a year including St Mary of the Mountain Catholic Church.
All the buildings were open for business, tourists and otherwise. Some of the original names were on the buildings even though the vendors had changed. Many were beautifully restored, others had a rustic flair. I loved the ornate trimmings around doors and windows.
There once was a Chinatown, and an Opera House, as well as two churches. The largest of the churches is St. Mary of the Mountains Catholic Church
, which has a museum in the basement and a docent who could spend hours telling you more history than you could assimilate. We even got to listen to original recordings on an vintage gramophone, including Battle Hymn of the Republic
played by John Phillips Sousa.
Here is a link toTimeline: Virginia City and the Comstock Lode
and also to a History of Virginia City.