V i r g i n i a   C i t y

Location:                   Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nevada in Storey County are located in the Virginia Mountain Range, approximately 23 miles southeast of Reno, 14 miles north west of Carson City, and 40 miles east of Lake Tahoe.  Access to the area is via State Route 341 (Geiger Grade) from Reno or Dayton (just east of Carson City).

General Characteristics:                   Storey County has an estimated population of 2,526+ people as of July, 1990 census.  Estimated population for 1997 and 1998, respectively are 2,995 and 3,053 for a 1.9% average annual increase.  Many residents in Virginia City/Gold Hill area commute to the Reno area as it is within a 30-minute drive from Virginia City.  The area enjoys a moderate climate with temperature ranges in the summer from 40º to 90º and in the winter from 10º to 60º.

History:                   Virginia City was the first truly industrial city in the West began in the late 1850's.  Gold was found at the  head of Six-Mile Canyon in 1859 by two miners named Pat McLaughlin and Peter O'Reilly. A fellow miner, Henry Comstock, stumbled upon their find and claimed it was on his property.  The gullible McLaughlin and O'Reilly believed him and assured Comstock a place in history when the giant lode was named.  Following the gold up the canyon an outcropping of gold in quartz was found.  Another miner, James Finney, nicknamed "Old Virginny" from his birthplace, is reported to have named the town during a drunken celebration. He dropped a bottle of whiskey on the ground and christened the newly-founded tent-and-dugout town on the slopes of Mt. Davidson "Old Virginny Town," in honor of himself.

Gold mixed with high quality silver ore was recovered in quantities large enough to catch the eye of President Abe Lincoln.  He needed the gold and silver to keep the Union solvent during the Civil War.  On October 31, 1864 Lincoln made Nevada a state although it did not contain enough people to constitutionally authorize statehood.

The resulting boom turned Virginny Town into Virginia City, the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco.  The prospectors built mansions, imported furniture and fashions from Europe and the Orient, and financed the Civil War. 

With the gold and silver came the building of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which ran from Reno to Carson City to Virginia City and later to Minden. The investments made in mining on the Comstock in the 1860's, 1870's and 1880's fueled the building of San Francisco.  Wm. Ralston and Crocker, founders of the Bank of California made their money in Virginia City. Names like Leland Stanford, George Hearst, John Mackay, Wm. Flood and many others made their fortunes in Comstock mining.

At the peak of its glory, Virginia City was a boisterous town with something going on 24 hours a day both above and below ground for its nearly 30,000 residents. There were visiting celebrities, Shakespeare plays, opium dens, newspapers, competing fire companies, fraternal organizations, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, and the first Miner's Union in the U.S.  The International Hotel was six stories high and boasted the West's first elevator, called a “rising room”.

Today, many mansions such as the Castle, the Mackay and the Savage stand as monuments to the opulence of life on the Comstock.  The Virginia & Truckee Railroad runs again from Virginia City to Gold Hill.  The largest federally designated Historical District in America is maintained in its original condition. "C" Street, the main business street, is lined with 1860's and 1870's buildings housing specialty shops of all kinds.

Source of History:  www.vcnevada.com

Economic Base:                   The major bases of the economy in Virginia City in approximate order of magnitude are:  tourist related and gaming businesses, government em­ployment, retail, and real estate.

Industry:                   The most important industry today in the Comstock is tourism.  An estimated 1,000,000+ tourists visit the area annually.  Several events are held throughout the year to attract tourists including:  The Mountain Oyster Cook-off, St. Patrick's Day parade, Tears of Joy Puppet Theater, Sierra Winds Wind Quintet, Cinco de Mayo Chili Cookoff, theater productions, Western States Racing Assoc. Grand Prix (Motorcycles), Comstock Historic Preservation Week, Escaragajo Dune Buggy Club Rally, Bonanza Days/ Western Reg. Gunfighter Championship, Virginia City Hillclimb - Audi/Quatro, "Make a Wish" Foundation’s Mt. Bike Race & Poker Walk, Fourth of July Parade & Fireworks, Storey County Official County Fair, Virginia City Rodeo, Thunder on the Mountain Classic Car Show, The Camel Races, 100 Mile Horseback Endurance Ride, Ferrari Club of America - Hill Climb, parade and Car Show, Comstock Art Show, Veteran's Day Parade, Christmas on the Comstock Parade Of Lights with Tree Lighting with Fireworks following the parade.

Summary:                   Virginia City/Gold Hill is an historic area of northern Nevada attracting many tourists.   There is adequate sewer and water available for devel­opment and considerable residential, commercial and industrial land available for development in Virginia City/Gold Hill. The community growth has had a positive impact on users and buyers of single family and commercial properties.  In effect, the tourist-based economy of the area create a demand for not only commercial properties, but for residential properties necessary for employee housing.