In the mid 1860s and ‘70s, Virginia City’s was known as the “Howling Wonder of the Western World.” Its silver ore helped finance the Union forces in the Civil War and made men millionaires overnight.
Before beginning a stroll down C Street, it’s a good idea to view the 16-minute video at “The Way it Was Museum” on the north end of the street. Exhibits at the museum include a collection of minerals found in the area, the scale model of Virginia City’s underground mines and a reproduction of a Comstock blacksmith shop ($3, adults)..
Frank Polk Slot Machine and Antique Pickle Casters among C Street Treasires
At the height of its silver mining glory, 72 saloons lined the city’s boardwalks. Today, the remaining saloons are all on C Street. And although through time they have been outfitted to some extent with modern conveniences, they retain their nineteenth century flavor. Most famous of the slot machines along the street is the one-armed bandit near the entrance of the Bonanza. It’s one of less than 100 wooden machines carved by Cowboy Artist of America Frank Polk. There’s also a valuable collection of Victorian pickle casters displayed on the back bar at the Bucket of Blood Saloon. (the view from the saloon’s back deck is panoramic).
Mark Twain, Comstock Firemen and International Hotel Part of History
Mark Twain’s desk is among the exhibits at the Mark Twain Museum, located in the former quarters of the Territorial Enterprise, Nevada’s oldest newspaper. Twain worked as a reporter for the paper during the mid-1860s. At the Liberty Engine company No. 1 Comstock Fireman’s Museum, most of the equipment is original A store called Grandma’s Fudge, though not in existence during silver mining days, occupies land on which part of the six-story International Hotel was located. The hotel, when built in 1877, had the only “Rising Room” (elevator) west of the Mississippi River. You can walk around it and be lost in it’s beauty.
Ponderosa Mine and Fourth Ward School Tours Reflect Peoples’ Lives
Ponderosa Saloon mining tours begin at the museum inside the saloon, with its more than 300 pieces of antique mining equipment. The rest of the experience goes underground to the former Best and Belcher mines, with their tunnels, stopes,, shafts and crosscuts. The Ponderosa building housed the Bank of California during silver rush days. Be sure to wear proper shoes as you will be on your feet for quite some time.
In 1876, the Fourth Ward School was built near the south end of C Street, with all of the latest architectural features incorporated in its design. Impeccably restored, it now houses a museum which chronicles Virginia City’s history. However, the schoolbooks, wooden desks with their inkwells and photographs of the students are what makes the attraction special.
Meandering Along the Boardwalks Brings Browsers Satisfaction
Many tourists find the best way to enjoy C Street is to savor it slowly. By wandering along, stepping through open doorways that look appealing, they find – in addition to the ubiquitous Virginia City souvenirs – hand-crafted jewelry and blown glass knickknacks, antique light fixtures and old cigar boxes. Prominently displayed in the Silver Queen Saloon is a 15-foot-tall Silver Queen, her dress made from 1,200 silver dollars. Inside the Delta Saloon is their famous “Suicide Table,” at which three different gamblers allegedly lost so heavily that they took their own lives. People who aren’t fond of honky-tonk probably won’t care much for C Street. Those who love it will.