Today the town only hints at the former wealth of the mid-1860s when adventurers and prospectors risked everything to grab a piece of the rich earth. At the time, danger lurked at every turn -- cave-ins, gunfights and greedy claim jumpers. Nowhere was this drama more prevalent than Virginia City, or "Old Virginny Town" as the locals called it, where the mining industry turned men into millionaires.
The Spirits of Chollar Mine
Chollar Mine was one of Virginia City's most successful mines. Businessman Billy Chollar discovered the silver lode and established the mine around 1859. To keep close tabs on his riches, Chollar built a mansion nearby, which became the mine's main office. The mansion was later dismantled and rebuilt at its current location on D Street to make way for the mine's pumping station.
Chollar's men worked at furious speeds to bring in the rich silver before other companies found it. His greatest rival was Potosi Mine and the competition was intense. Arguments between the 2 companies led to violence and lawsuits that were finally settled in 1865 when the mines merged to form the Chollar-Potosi Mine.
The mines brought riches and glamour to their owners, but the miners were vulnerable as they tunneled through the ground searching for silver. Cave-ins were common and an explosion in the main shaft killed many men. But even death didn't stop the owners on their quest for more wealth.
Today there are reports of roving apparitions and disembodied voices in this otherwise silent place. Visitors share accounts of being touched by unseen forces or experiencing the distinct sense of being watched as they pass through the old central shaft. Perhaps these apparitions are still driven by the same greed that brought them to Chollar Mine over 100 years ago.
Bottoms Up at the Washoe Club
With money to spend, the residents of Old Virginny Town needed someplace to blow off steam. The Washoe Club, appropriately nicknamed "The Millionaire's Club," was where the newly rich lived out their wildest fantasies. Men bellied up to the bar for heavy drinking and business talk as they imagined new ways to expand their growing empires. They played games of chance and caroused with prostitutes.
Like any good VIP hangout, the Millionaire's Club had 1 respectable main entrance and 2 secret rear exits for the patrons' discretion. Prostitutes could come and go through these secret doors and tipsy patrons could be removed quietly. But not all of the people coming and going were so feisty -- or, for that matter, alive. One room in the building was used as to hold dead bodies while gravediggers waited for the ground to thaw during cold winters.
Today this space is still home to a working bar said to be haunted by a trio of ghosts. An attractive blonde apparition known as the "Lady in Blue" is often spotted at the top of the spiral staircase. Some patrons have also spied the ghost of a scared little girl. The third ghost, an old-time prospector, causes a ruckus by snatching unattended drinks from the bar. Modern-day bartenders indulge his penchant for the drink by leaving a full shot of bourbon on the bar before closing down for the night. Come morning, the glass is always empty. Disappearing drinks, mysteriously locking doors and tipping barstools are just some of the bar's paranormal activities. It seems the whiskey-loving ghost also keeps his eye on the ladies -- witnesses have seen the front door swing open for some women as they enter the bar.