2015 Mining History Association


Walking Tour of Virginia City

Tour Leader: Joe Curtis

June 11, 2015




The entire town of Virginia City is a National Historic Landmark.  The Walking Tour of downtown Virginia City was led by Joe Curtis, local historian and long-time resident of the Comstock.  Starting from the Fourth Ward School, the tour route followed C Street, the town’s main business street, to Union Street.  Many of historic buildings in this southern end of town survived the great 1875 fire.  The fire devastated a large part of the city, including many mine buildings, from Taylor Street to Carson Street and caused $12 million in property damage.  This area town was rapidly rebuilt after the fire.  Now days, most of the historic buildings have been repurposed to serve the needs of the tourists who descend on the city every day seeking a glimpse of the old mining west.  The MHAers then climbed Union Street to B Street to view more historic structures before returning to the starting point at the school.

The restored Forth Ward School (1876) is now a museum.  It was the site of the first MHA meeting 25 years ago.

The Loring Cut, across C Street from the school is one of the locations at which the Comstock Lode orebody reached the surface.  The Kendall Cut at the north end of town was the site of the discovery of the Comstock Lode and the famous Ophir Mine.

The MHAers relax in the shade while waiting for the Walking Tour to start.

Joe Curtis, the leader of the tour, explains that most of the major mining companies established their shafts, hoisting works, and some of their mills downhill on E and F Streets.  The Savage Mine and the Hale and Norcross Mine were in this area.  Only their mine dumps remain.

The Savage Mansion (1876, private) was actually the Office of the Savage Mining Company.  It backs on C Street and fronts on D Street. Note the steepness of the slope.

The Mackay Mansion, (1860s) now a museum, visible downhill on D Street was actually the office for John Mackay’s Gould and Curry Mining Company.  The Combination Shaft headframe and dumps can be seen in the far distance behind the mansion.


The MHAers take a mid-tour break at the Virginia City Visitors Center.  Some are seeking the shade under the roof of the Red Garter Saloon.  The Wells Fargo Office was located across the street.
The Washoe Club relocated to this location on C Street after the 1875 fire.  Its members included many of the movers and shakers of the community.

Photo Credits: Johnny Johnsson, Mike Kaas, and Bob Spude




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