Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 16

Sunday, October 2, 2011

None of us were sad to be leaving Fallon, and we didn't have too far to go today.  Heading west across Nevada, I don't know that I've ever seen so many trailers and pre-fab homes in my life.  At least some of them looked well cared for, but many were obviously abandoned.

We knew we had plenty of time for a detour, and Kerry had an idea.  Do you see that little white "V", way up on the hill?  That's our destination - Virginia City.

The drive up began pleasantly enough as the road wound its way through these hills.

But Good-Golly-Miss-Molly, do you see that little yellow sign?  The one that says 15% Grade?
Yah.  They are NOT KIDDING!  And it just kept going.

Though it looked like a ghost town when we first arrived, the crowds soon followed.

We poked around a bit while we waited for some of the main attractions to open up.  The Silver Dollar Queen's dress is made of real silver dollars.

Virginia City was a mining boomtown that sprang up with the discovery of the Comstock Lode around 1860.  Apparently they took about $400 million in silver and gold (mostly silver) out of the mines over the next 20 years, earning Virginia City the title "America's Richest Town"... until everything went bust.  Now it's all for the tourists.

Kerry, of course, loved the architecture.  See the "V" up on the hill to the right?

St. Mary's in the Mountains, Catholic Church, with the morning sun behind it.

The main attraction for Kerry, of course, was the steam train.  And boy did we hit the jackpot.  Apparently this steam engine hasn't run for months, and they're only using it for two days before putting it back in storage.  (Probably they use a little diesel shunter the rest of the time.)  We just happened to come on the right day to ride the steam train!

The half-hour excursion runs down to Gold Hill and back up to Virginia City, right through the ruins of several old mines, and some still working.

Steam engines need water.  And what an experience.  We passed through a tunnel on the way down and thought nothing of it, but going back up the hill?  Oh boy, with that little steam engine working hard, it was pouring out smoke and steam.  Though we were in the tunnel less than a minute we got a real feeling for what it was like to travel by steam train.  Hot and stinky.

Virginia City is a National Historic Landmark, but it's also a living town.  I love the huge rain gutters... and the satellite dish.

We also lucked out in that we were in town on a very special weekend.

Yep, it's the 2011 Outhouse Races.  The two cowboys above are unrolling the T.P. for the finish line.

The boys thought this was absolutely hilarious good fun, and it was, except... guess who the much-promoted sponsor was?  See that guy in the black pants, white shirt, and white hat - bottom right?  He's there representing the Must@ng R@nch.  Yes, prostitution is legal in Nevada.  Yuck.

On to better things... we toured the old Best and Belcher Mine, right under the Ponderosa Saloon.

Turns out we had a private tour from a very authentic and friendly guide.

And we watched the Wild West Show, with old-time gunfighting.  Usually, the good guys wear the white hats...

... and the bad guys wear black.  Though this guy was a real crack-up.

Still, we had to cheer when the Sheriff shot him 'dead', with much drama, and no blood.

Virginia City's heyday was during the Civil War.  Trust Tate to find the soldiers in town!

After a few hours, poking around town, and a much-appreciated lunch (the boys have discovered French Dip Sandwiches) we were ready to head east and up into the Sierras to Lake Tahoe.  Pictures, tomorrow :D

Day 16 Miles : 116          Total : 3775


melanie said...

What an excellent detour! God is so good to get you there on just the right day for the extra fun.

I remember those steep grades ~ We thought we'd burned out our brakes on the way down from Pikes Peak {ten years ago now!}

Felicity said...

Oh that must have been so much fun!! Eden has said that 'if ever' we get to visit the USA she wants to go and see a town like this!
Great fun it seems.

leah said...

Cool side trip, and what luck to get there on the day the steam train was running! And then to go through the mines, too!

The outhouse races had to be a hoot (too bad there are, um, houses of ill repute in Nevada)!

The dB family said...

What a day!! Isn't it the best when God gifts us with those special little bonuses that were not planned as part of the trip?!

I haven't been on a train in years -- let alone a steam train.