Virginia City was the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco for a time in the nineteenth century, thanks to the discovery of silver in the Comstock Lode in 1859, a strike that yielded almost 7 million tons of silver ore over twenty years. In the peak year of 1877, the mines poured out over $14,000,000 of gold and $21,000,000 of silver.
Among those who made their fortunes in Virginia City, Nevada silver were George Hearst, whose fortunes fueled son William Randolph Hearst's publishing empire; William Chapman Ralston, founder of the Bank of California and four Irishmen: John William Mackay, James Graham Fair, James C. Flood and William S. O'Brien, who formed the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company.
Today, Virginia City, Nevada is a lively, open-air museum of sorts, with a fun main street lined with historic buildings and fun shops. Buy a Silver Line Express ticket and you can take in all the shows, museums and mine tours for one price.
Railroad aficionados and anyone else who just likes old trains can ride the Virginia & Truckee Railroad train from Virginia City to Gold Hill and Carson City. They make special runs on Halloween.
To continue on the driving tour without going to Virginia City, take south US Hwy 50 toward Stateline, NV and South Lake Tahoe, CA.