Virginia City – Historic Ghost Town and Gold Mining Days of the Past

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961, Virginia City is one of the oldest establishments in Nevada. In 1859, the Comstock Lode silver strike resulted in Virginia City becoming a mining boomtown that eventually grew into a thriving metropolis. By the end of the nineteenth century, much of the mining was disbanded and the population quickly declined, causing the town’s prosperity to abate and destined the flourishing city to become a mining ghost town. Although its boom days are over, the historical town remains as it was in its original state during the peak mining days of the 1870’s. With its authentic preservation and enriching history, Virginia City is presently a tourist attraction that draws over two million visitors each year.

Although the Grosh brothers and Henry Comstock all had a stake in the claim, credit for the discovery at Gold Canyon is disputed, and legend has it that James Fennimore, also known as James “Old Virginny” Finney, was the discoverer of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859, which was the first significant United States unearthing of silver ore. Once the gold and silver strike was made public, prospectors journeyed from far and wide to the eastern slope of Mount Davidson hastening to stake their claims. Mount Davidson is the highest peak in the Virginia Range and forms the backdrop of Virginia City.

Located along State Route 341 in northwestern Nevada, Virginia City lies east of Lake Tahoe and is in close proximity to Carson City, Nevada’s state capitol. At one time, the population of the city increased to as many as 30,000 people, including the small surrounding towns of Gold Hill and Silver City. This growth occurred during the height of the “Big Bonanza”, the Mother Lode of the 1870’s when millions of dollars of gold and silver ore were being extracted from mine shafts at depths exceeding 3,000 feet.

In 1875, much of Virginia City was destroyed by the “Great Fire”. However, because of the affluence of the mining industry, the town was quickly rebuilt in approximately eighteen months, and the hotels, opera houses, banks and other merchant businesses were once again restored and put back in operation.

Instant wealth was acquired for many inhabitants during the boisterous gold and silver mining times of the town, but when the Comstock Lode epoch dissipated at the latter part of the nineteenth century, the population declined sharply, indicating the boom age of the once prosperous town had come to an end. By the mid 1950’s, Virginia City’s population had fallen to approximately 500 people.

Presently, the population has risen to about 1200 people, and although the mining activity is minimal, the economic base of this historic town has shifted to tourism, bolstering over two million visitors each year. The preservation of the buildings and artifacts provide visitors with an unadulterated Victorian-era experience, and with today’s overwhelming tourist interest, it has enabled Virginia City to thrive again as it once did in the explosive days of the 1800’s.

Because of the great prosperity that was obtained during the bustling years of the Comstock Lode silver strike, Virginia City was called “The Richest Place on Earth”. Although the presence of gold and silver has diminished in the hills of this famous ghost town, Virginia City still remains rich in history and folklore. The present-day historic saloons, underground mines, regal mansions and cemeteries all offer a glimpse of the town’s momentous past. With such renown and magnetism, this historic landmark lures visitors unlike any other, exemplifying that Virginia City has rightly earned its place in history.

The First Snowfall of the Season

It has been several years of daught in California and Nevada. Crops are withering, lakes and rivers have dwindled, and the water aquifer level is dropping. We depend on water for so many things – drinking, cooking, bathing, watering crops, recreation, and so much more. Land without water is discharged up; people without water can not endure. Water is life. So imagine my delight when the weather forecasters hit it right and rain and later snow began falling like mad. It started last evening with a sudden whosh and then a pause, and then it waltzed in again and is refusing to stop. Glorious, wonderful, enriching water is pounding the earth and my soul.

My morning began with a pre-dawn run in the rain. While some might hesitate to wander out into a shower, I looked forward to it with great anticipation. Refreshing, clean, and tingling with rebirth, a rain is incredible for building the spirit and exciting the mind. Jumping puddles and avoiding potential spills on corners, the miles reeled in in delight. Although soaking wet by the end, I had been revitalized by the joyous droplets that covered me. After all, wet dries, a warm shower warms, and fresh clothing soothes.

With a speedy glance at the weather report I noted that rain was expected from the coast of California to the Nevada-Utah border and beyond with potential snowfall in the mountains. Would not you know that this was the day I needed to travel to Lake Tahoe for a 2-day presentation? But as an adventurous driver and possessing an undaunted spirit, I checked for chains in the car, bookmarked my phone for Nevada road reports, and headed down the highway. The rain fell for the next 200 miles, alternating between drizzle and monsoon as severe pools bordered the highway with flooding possibilities awaiting. But with rain so needed, how could I complain or even consider staying at home when the road and duty called.

The last few miles as I ascended Spooner Summit the temperature dropped and snowflakes began to swirl. I kept an eye out for the highway patrol as well as someone to assist me with my chains. It is not that I do not know how to put chains on, but in fancy dress and shoes a walling did not seem like a good idea. I decided to save that for later. Law enforcement and chain installers failed to materialize and so I ventured on following the snowplow's wake, reaching the hotel just as the snow really started to stick. Covered with flakes and dripping just a bit, I unloaded and headed for the assigned room to prepare for my talk on dementia, pain and anger management, and agitation and how the right music can quell these for a time. This is a magical topic to be delivered under the magical condition of snow

As I wait for the audience I am enjoying the lovely view of snow falling on pine trees, covering the earth, cars, and passersby. Is there anything more Invigorating than this? The weather is supposed to break this evening and roads are expected to clear. That will be nice for my afternoon return route tomorrow, but for now I am enjoying the beauty of the moment with visions of snow angels circulating through my thoughts. Snow and rain can be addictive.

Granada Spain – Glorious City Of Southern Spain

Situated at the foot of the southerly Sierra Nevada ski

resort, Granada is one of the most splendid cities of

eastern Andalucia.

On its southern side is 103 kms of fabulous Mediterranean

coastline, with the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical in

close proximity whilst, in between, lies a fertile plain

producing exotic fruits.

Granada dates back to prehistoric times and was known as

Ilbyr. When the Romans colonized the southern part of

Iberia, they built their own city there, calling it

Illibris. The Arabs, invading the Peninsula in the

eighth century, gave the city its current name of Granada.

Being the last Muslim city of Spain to be reconquered by

the Christians, Granada has an unmistakable Arab flavor,

and Moorish and Christian elements go hand-in-hand.

One of the most brilliant jewels of Granada is the Alhambra,

a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari

Dynasty in the fourteenth century. This mighty compound

of buildings, including the summer palace called Generalife

with its beautiful fountains and gardens, stands at the foot

of the Sierra Nevada.

The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or

medina called the Albaicín. One of the oldest districts,

it has been declared a World Heritage Site, along with the

Alhambra and Generalife.

The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the

Albaicín, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish


Sacromonte Hill, which overlooks the city from the north,

is famous for its cave dwellings, once home to a large gypsy

community. Here, you can find some of the best flamenco

shows in Andalucia.

Perhaps the most important Christian monument of Granada is

the Cathedral. Built in 1523, Queen Isabel and King

Ferdinand are buried there in the Royal Chapel.

Among museums well-worth visiting are the Art Museum in the

Palacio de Carlos V at the Alhambra, the Alhambra Museum,

the Cathedral Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the

Science Museum.

If the children become a little bored with sightseeing,

they will just love the activities available in the nearby

Sierra Nevada ski resort or the beautiful beaches not too

far away. And so will you!

So … come visit Granada and have the time of your lives!