Le Grand Détour

Virginia City

20 July 2017

You may have heard about the US state of Virginia. But did you know that they named a city after it in Nevada? True story. They called it... Virginia City.


United States Postal Office in Virginia City. Postal offices have become a rare sight back home, but not in the United States.

Virginia City was a mining town. And not just any mining town, it was a silver mine. And it was booming. For two decades during the 19th century, Virginia City was the largest city in the US West of the Mississippi. Then San Francisco took over. Then they had a little accident in 1906. And today, Los Angeles is the largest city West of the Mississippi.


Old Washoe Club in Virginia City.

Today, Virginia City is but a tourist trap. Filled with pretend Western-like atmosphere, where its decline is almost sad to behold. The United States actually have plenty of history, but the quality of their showcasing of said history varies greatly from place to place.


Back home, we mostly know Bonanza from some advertisement for a children's drink back in the 1990s.

I am not entirely sure why I am spending an entire entry talking about Virginia City, because its current incarnation does not stimulate enough content. And yet, this place is exactly the kind of place I wanted to experience. A true American tourist trap, where there might be a genuine affection for the past.


My tour guide insisted on a picture of me in jail. I was more fascinated by the cheap bars they had used. Do not worry, I got out.

Perhaps if they had not modernised the town, it would have worked a lot better as an outdoor museum. But Americans cannot help themselves and modernise. And they do not do modernising well.