We Attend Mass Then Visit Virginia City - Verdi, NV
Where I stayed
Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park
No, we didn't move. We have been in Verdi, NV all along. Reno is just to our east and with the more recognizable name we chose to use Reno as our location. But we really are in Verdi, so there.
At first glance the St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral is not so fancy as cathedrals go. The exterior foundation is granite block, the structure is made of red brick. The twin spires have an orthodox flavor to them. The exterior entrance doors are beautiful, clad with copper mined in Nevada. At first glance the interior appears rather plain. The stained glass windows are very beautiful in an angular sort of way. The great mural painting located behind the altar is considered one of the finest works of its kind in all of America. It was painted by Edith and Esabel Piczek. The theme is the Adoration of the Lamb of God, our Lord of the Blessed Eucharist.
Mass was a wonderful experience. Every Catholic church celebrates Mass essentially the same. Some have parishioners speak their responses, others sing. Bishop Calvo's congregation sing their responses as if chanting in the original Latin. The subject of today's Mass is the 40 Hours Devotion For Life. After Mass was the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Exposition is a manner of honoring the Holy Sacrament by exposing It, with great solemnity, to the view of the faithful in order that they may pay their devotions before It. The Exposition is a very moving experience.
After Mass we decided to go for all the marbles and visit Virginia City. We drive south on Virginia Street, aka U.S. Highway 395, through the older part of town. Nothing of interest for us here. We stay on the highway for a few miles passing newer shopping malls, the airport, and a few new casinos.
We reach I-580, jump onto it for a few miles then follow the signs towards Virginia City. In our travels I have found directional signage OK to not so good. The signage we follow is good, then we come to a turnabout. We can go right 90 degrees and get off of the merry go round at the first opportunity or go around 180 degrees and eject on the opposite side of this ill conceived traffic calming fixture. Where is the directional sign to Virginia City when you need it?
We guess correctly and get off of the merry go round at the first opportunity. We are on the Geiger Grade Road which is a good thing. The original toll road was built in 1862 and provided the most direct connection between the Comstock Lode and Truckee Meadows, now Reno. It fell out of favor and became a public roadway when the Virginia and Truckee Railroad was completed. The road we now travel was realigned in 1936 as part of the New Deal.
After a very steep, windy and very scenic drive up the side of a tall mountain we reach the 6900 foot Geiger Summit. A few miles down the road is our destination, Virginia City a town of 850 souls....... but at one time 15,000 people lived there.
Today Virginia City is a tourist gold mine as opposed to the past when its fortunes were made from the mining industry. Although a sizable amount of gold was taken from the area the riches really came from the discovery of silver. The Comstock Lode was the first major silver deposit discovered in the United States. Needless to say miners came from far an wide to this boomtown. More than $400,000,000 worth of precious metal was taken in the twenty years after its discovery in 1859. When the Comstock Lode ran out in 1898 the population dwindled.
Virginia City is considered the birthplace of Mark Twain as it was here that Samuel Clemens, then a reporter for the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name. A documented story goes that Clemens was mugged and relieved of his beloved gold watch and money. The robbery turns out to be a joke played by his friends to give him material to write about. He retrieved his money and his watch but was not happy with the experience. Clemens mentions it in his book, Roughing It, apparently still sore about it.
We drive into town and its hard not to notice that it is built on a steep hillside. The main street is located on a gentle incline but homes on the west are built on ground quite a bit higher. The terrain on the other side looks like as if it were suited more for mountain goats than humans. St. Mary's of the Mountain Catholic Church is not more than a couple of hundred feet downhill from main street but ones toes jam into the front of their shoes as we walk downhill. Even though St. Mary's is located much lower than that of main street her steeple is very prominent. A very tall steeple for sure!
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad still exists but no longer hauls ore and supplies. It now takes tourists on sight seeing trips. There is another venue that caters to students of the "Old West", a saloon that features the "suicide table". Oh, another such venue is a wild west shoot um up gun slinger show. Other than that every other place in town devotes itself entirely to entertaining the tourist hungry for the experience of the Old West.
Our visit in town is cut a little short. Our big Lab, Molly, was stung by a yellowjacket wasp a month and a half ago. She hasn't forgotten that experience so anything that has wings and flies gets her undivided attention. While eating lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating here comes a few yellowjackets looking for free eats. Molly sees them and goes nuts; she starts shaking and snapping at them. Then she wants to leave and she wants out of there. We quickly finish our lunch just before she starts to tow us down the street. There is no stopping her!
A couple of hundred feet down the boardwalk she is barely controllable. But then we run smack dab into a cowboy in full costume who, after firing his six shooter a couple of times, announces that the next show is about to start so get yur tickets now! Our furry ones do NOT like loud noises and promptly do an about face.
We see the that our furry pals are not enjoying themselves. We have seen enough of Virginia City, have a good flavor for it, and the comfort of our pals is paramount. We head back to the truck and head out of town.
We had a nice day attending Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral then visiting the old mining town of Virginia City. Tomorrow we will prepare for our departure. We are just a few days from home and look forward to what ever adventure lies ahead.