Virginia City, Montana

October 17, 2015

Virginia City is a remarkably well preserved old west Victorian gold mining town just 20 miles west of Yellowstone National Park (90 miles by road).

photo
Alder Gulch

Start your visit at the mining museum. Evidence of past mining operations are visible everywhere - prospect pits, trenches, shafts, adits (generally collapsed tunnels), mill tailings, and waste-rock dumps

photo

Rich placer diggings were discovered in Alder Gulch in the spring of 1863.

The gold rush in Alder Gulch produced the largest amount of placer gold in the Northwest an estimated $120 million.

photo
Dredge

Placer gold mining, or free gold prospecting, should not be confused with hard rock gold mining. Placer mining involves dust, flakes, and nuggets, while hard rock mining involves veins of ore.

photo

Continue your visit to the Nevada City Rail Yard where there is some restoration going on.

photo

Some of these cars and trains (place was closed due to end od season) came from different parts of the United States.

There 1-mile run between Virginia City and Nevada City only runs during the high tourism season.

Continue your visit to the restored town.

photo

With a population of over 10,000 in 1864, Virginia City was the largest town in the inland Northwest. The communities strung out along Alder Gulch were known as the "Fourteen-mile City."

photo

Virginia City became the capital of the Montana Territory in 1865. If you live outside the US and you are curious, today the capital of Montana is in Helena

photo

Virginia City was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

photo

Of the nearly three hundred structures in town, almost half were built prior to 1900.

photo

Buildings in their original condition with Old West period displays and information plaques stand next to thoroughly modern diners and other amenities.

photo

The first public school in Montana opened in Virginia City in 1866.

photo

The Madison County Courthouse was built in 1876. The first company of the Montana National Guard organized in Virginia City in 1885.

photo

The Historic District of Virginia City and Nevada City is currently operated by the Montana Historic Commission and is the top state-owned tourist attraction in Montana.

photo

The Commission operates gold panning, a historic hotel, and the longest continuously operating live summer theater company in the western United States.

photo

In late 1863, the great wealth in the region, lack of a justice system and the insecure means of travel gave rise to serious criminal activity, especially robbery and murder along the trails and roads of the region.

photo

Road agents as they became known were ultimately responsible for up to 100 deaths in the region in 1863 and 1864.

photo

This resulted in the formation of the Vigilance committee of Alder Gulch and the infamous Montana Vigilantes.

photo

Up to 15 road agents were hanged by the vigilantes in December 1863 and January 1864, including the sheriff of Bannack, Montana and alleged leader of the road agent gang, Henry Plummer.

photo
Finney House

The Finney House shows how log houses were covered with siding to hide the logs. People lived in this house continuously from 1864 until the 1950s

Map

photo


Driving distance from Vancouver:
1,289 km (800 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 13 hours