Take and excellent Montana family vacation in Virginia City
by Michele Kadison
Virginia City is a great place to see some gold rush history, while enjoying Montana activities and lodging.
When gold was discovered in Alder Gulch in 1863, Virginia City sprang forth as a boom town, serving as the Montana Territorial Capital for 10 years. Once the gold ran dry, Virginia City lost its glimmer, but thanks to excellent preservation it now shines with over 150 historical buildings certified by the Montana Historical Society. These original buildings present a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Old West during the gold rush years with original artifacts and implements that were used in the gold camps of yesteryear. Antique automobiles, mechanical music machines, a penny arcade, boardwalks, and a two story outhouse are just some of the fascinating exhibits you’ll find in Virginia City.
Nearby Nevada City is another preserved community. Take the narrow gauge train and travel between two historic mining camps located on the Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad. Then visit the Alder Gulch Short Line Steam Railroad Museum to learn about the equipment used by the early railroaders.
Virginia City’s Heritage Days and Victorian Ball celebrate the Victorian era every August. With a Grand Ball where guests dress in period costume, you will feel the exhilaration of going back in time. Visit the Virginia City Players’ early 19th century productions at the Opera House or the wonderful summer stock theater that one of the best known west of the Mississippi. The Virginia City Chamber of Commerce will have a schedule of shows.
Lodgings, restaurants, and shops are all there to be enjoyed as you wander through this town where old meets the new. Have a beer at Montana’s first brewery, the H. S. Gilbert Brewery while enjoying a performance by the Brewery Follies Players. Mosey down to the Bale of Hay Saloon, or have a cup of coffee at the Star Bakery to experience more of Virginia City’s charm and hospitality.
If its trout fishing you’re after, some of the best trout streams flow through the nearby Madison River Valley. The magnificent mountains surrounding the valley will certainly bring out the hidden photographer in you, so don’t forget to bring along your camera.
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