Virginia City, Nevada, Western Town

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CLAIM TO FAME – The Comstock Lode, the single richest deposit of silver and gold in the continental United States, was struck here on the side of Mount Davidson in 1859.

It started a deep-mining boom that would last 20 years and attract some 25,000, including a budding young writer by the name of Samuel Clemens.

ACTIVITIES – Venture inside the 1861 Chollar Mine; ride the Virginia & Truckee Steam Railroad; tour Mackay Mansion, the opulent home of mine owner Thomas Mackay; see where Clemens discovered his inner vein at the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise; immerse yourself in Comstock lore at The Way It Was Museum.

BELLY UP – At the Bucket of Blood, Delta, Washoe Club and Ponderosa saloons (the latter with its own mine in the back) all on architecturally authentic, if touristy, D Street.

BED DOWN -At the Gold Hill Hotel, Nevada’s oldest operating inn ($45-145), 1540 Main St., Virginia City, Ph. 775-847-0111, or the Tahoe House Hotel ($70-185), 162 S. C St., Virginia City, Ph. 775-847-5264.

LOCATION – 15 miles south of Reno, Nevada. Convenient to Lake Tahoe.

MORE INFOVirginia City Convention & Tourism Authority, Ph. 800-718-7587.