History Of Virginia City, Nevada

History of Virginia City, Nevada. Virginia City, Nevada was established during the era of the California Gold Rush and was home to Samuel Clements, better known as Mark Twain. Around 1849 during the California...

Around 1849 during the California Gold Rush, folks were moving through Virginia City to go to California. From roughly 1859 to 1895, the population within Virginia City grew from a couple hundred to about 19,000. The region's population then grew to around 28,000. Families were very prevalent, and children were raised and schooled, so this wasn't a typical all-male community. There was a very eclectic population of Irish, Welsh, Scots, Germans and every other ethnicity. There was a large Jewish community as well and they have their own cemetery. There was a small black community that owned businesses during this time. There was a significant Chinese community who were business owners and service workers for the most part, but the Chinese were not permitted to work in the mines because they were considered to be bad luck.


Before the railroad was built in 1869 to move silver, food products were brought into Virginia City from San Francisco by wagon. The food could be in the city within 18-24 hours with the meat on ice to prevent spoiling. The town had everything from jewelry stores to candy shops to tea and spice companies. Mining was the main industry, but there were also hotels, barber shops, boarding houses, breweries, milling operations, metal foundries, blacksmiths, livery stables, lumber yards, and anything you would find in a community today. Virginia City was a very sophisticated community during this time.




The individuals who came to the area during the Gold Rush were corporate minded stock traders looking at corporate mining operations. At one point in time, this was known as the richest place on earth. It was a very sophisticated community, so consequently there were some very elegant homes built here. Many mining innovations occurred here that are still utilized in mining operations throughout the world today. After the Gold Rush, people left California to come to Nevada and they haven't stopped since. California is Virginia City's tourism base.

One of the primary individuals associated with the community is Mark Twain. Samuel Clemens came here in 1861 with his brother Orion who had been appointed by Lincoln to be the first secretary to the territory of Nevada. Once Samuel came to Virginia City, there wasn't enough work for him to do. He tried retailing, clerking, laboring and a number of other endeavors, but still unable to find honest work he decided to become a journalist. It was while in Virginia City that he began using the pen name Mark Twain, so we lovingly say that Samuel Clemens was born in Missouri and Mark Twain was born in Virginia City.

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