America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana
It was the wild west and today, or at least in the spring when the site opens again, it is the wild west again, tourist style. These two towns, only a mile and one half apart, which can be transported to and fro by train, serve as great examples of the western vibe with exhibits on the history, gold mining adventures, and great town walks through buildings that have stood since the heydey of the area in the 1860s. There are over seventy historic sites in Virginia City; in Nevada City over forty-five. It's a real western treat.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Virginia City/Nevada City
Taking a walk on the West side, Virginia City style - Start your trek at the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. It wasn't there during the boom, now serving as the spot to get the Alder Gulch Short Line to Nevada City for tourists who want a ride. In fact, Virginia City didn't have a railroad in 1863, which led to its demise. Head east down Wallace Street, taking in the Opera House, the Bale of Hay Saloon, bakeries, blacksmith, barber shops, and a whole lot more. Some are open for business; food, gifts. Some are open for entertainment. Your choice now is to head south to Idaho Street and Warren Street. There's also a few sites on the street north of Wallace Street. Idaho Street is home to schools, churches, and lots of old homes. For those that want to stay overnight, the Fairweather Inn has fifteen rooms. For those that want entertainment, take in the Virginia City Players or the Brewery Follies.
Taking a walk on the West side, Nevada City style - Whether you come in by train or park along the west side of the main street near the Depot or Engine House, you will be directly across from the beginning of your Nevada City walking tour. Visit the Nevada City hotel, the Star Bakery, Criterion Hall, or another of the original or reconstructed buildings. Head one street back and you're in the presence of the Applebound and Crabb Store, featured in a number of films, and China Town. There's more on the vertical street, including the Wagon Shop and the Dimsdale School. One of the most unique things about a visit to Nevada City is that you can stay in one of the motel cabins of the Nevada City Hotel and recreate your own wild west scenes all night long.
Photo above: Stereograph of Hydraulic Gold Mining near Virginia City, 1871. W.H. Jackson for the U.S. Geological Survey. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Where Is It
Virginia City and Nevada City are located only a mile and one half apart along Highway 287 in southwestern Montana. You're not particularly close to any large cities. Virginia City is home to only two hundred people. You're about seventy-six miles south of Butte, population five to six thousand, an hour and one half drive. You're about eighty-six miles from Yellowstone National Park, a little over that one and one half hour mark.
What is There Now
Virginia City Depot - Visitor Services at the location of the Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad. Trip to Nevada City takes about twenty-five minutes.
Nevada City Museum and Music Hall - Exhibits and history.
Bovey Visitor Center - Located across from the Nevada City Museum with exhibits and facilities.
River of Gold Mining Exhibit - Between Virginia and Nevada cities, the exhibit has history and a gold mining experience.
How Much to Visit
Nevada City Museum and Music Hall - $8 Adults, Youth/Seniors $6, 4 and under, Free.
Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad - $10 Adults, Youth/Seniors $8, 4 and under, Free.
River of Gold Gold Mining Experience - $8.
Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend.
Nevada City Museum and Music Hall, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Virginia City to Nevada City Train, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Montana Heritage Commission Visitor Centers, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Visit Virginia City/Nevada City, Montana
Virginia City Chamber of Commerce
So what else is there to do near the two cities? Well, Highway 287 is often thought of as the most direct, perhaps not the quickest, way to get from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park. And, of course, just below Yellowstone are the Grand Teton's. If you still want to visit more wild west towns, eighty miles west there's another relic, the mining town of Bannack.