There's a little place just over the hill from my town that's one of my favorite places ever: Virginia City, an old boomtown from the silver rush of the 1800's. It's famous as the literary birthplace of Mark Twain, and also the fictitious locale of the Ponderosa Ranch from the television show Bonanza. It also has quite a few famous restaurants and saloons, such the Bucket of Blood and the Silver Queen. But mainly, being a huge fan of the Victorian era, the Wild West, and everything vintage, I just go crazy over the historic architecture. Especially now, since my WIP is heavily Victorian-influenced, I love poring over pictures of Virginia City and visiting the place (when it's not too bitterly cold) for inspiration.
It's not Victorian England, but it's the closest you can get to it in this area!
|St. Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church|
SCBWI had a conference there a couple years ago, which was held both at the old 4th Ward School, now a museum, and the Mackay Mansion. I was in hog heaven.
|The 4th Ward School|
Most of these buildings are said to be haunted, including the Mackay Mansion. (TAPS and other television ghost hunters have done investigations around the town.) I couldn't find a nighttime picture of the Mackay Mansion, and really wish I'd taken one. The silence in the Virginia Foothills is eerie after dark, and driving down that long, spooky path toward the only lit building in the area was super creepy. I was glad to get inside where it was brightly lit and cheerful! Even with people around, the place had a creepy feeling to it--but by then I was having a blast and didn't care.
|The Mackay Mansion|
The historic cemetery is very old and fascinating to walk through. Some of the headstones are so worn you can barely make out the names and dates. Other grave markers are only made of wood. Forget reading the names on those!
Among all the antique stores, quirky museum tours, and other fun shops to visit, there's one place we always make a stop: Grandma's Fudge (the shop just to the left of the Silver Queen).
And I love walking past these cool buildings teetering at the edge of a steep hill. (Like many tourist attractions, the back streets can be even more interesting to explore than the main streets.) They look almost ready to fall, but have withstood time and weather for a hundred years or more. This picture doesn't even do the view justice.
This vintage photograph shows that not much has changed about the old boomtown in a long time, except for the dramatic decrease in population and the shift from mining city to tourist attraction.
If you have about 11 minutes to spare, check out the silly video we made in Virginia City for Lia's senior project last year! (And stick around for the bloopers at the end.) See if you recognize some of the city's famous landmarks. Unfortunately, since it was a less-cold-than-usual early spring day, there were a lot of tourists, so we couldn't do too much filming along the main street.
Do you guys have any favorite places in your area that you'd love to share?