Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Fourth Ward School Museum & Virginia City
Virginia City boomed with the discovery of the Comstock silver lode in 1859. By 1873 25,000 people lived in the city and the surrounding area. A fire swept through the downtown in 1875 and it was rebuilt to withstand fire with brick walls and steel doors and window frames. These are the buildings that make up the historic district today.
The fire didn’t touch the wooden schoolhouse which wasn’t built into 1876. The school was the pride of the community, built to house many more students than it ever did because, as with all booms, there came a bust. By 1936 when the school closed for good only seven students were in the graduating class.
The school has been completely restored and, since it wasn’t used for anything after it was closed, everything is original from the 1876 construction. The museum exhibits are housed in the old classrooms. One has been left as a classroom with the original desks, wall maps, and pot-bellied stove. The others have displays about mining and the history of the city.
Most of the museum is accessible but there are a few displays that are too high to see from a seated position. A ramp from the parking lot leads to a lower level door. Ring the bell for assistance. An elevator accesses all of the floors.
The old buildings in the historic district are wonderful however the shops are the usual tourist type – trinkets, candy, jewelry, old time photos,etc. The sidewalks are boardwalk with very steep little humps. The main street (C Street) like most of the streets in the town isn’t level. These two things combined make the town not accessible for visitors who use wheelchairs.
Virginia City is a short, easy drive from US 50 but if you’re driving a RV follow the signs. RVs are not permitted on Route 342 because of steep grades. Route 341 has curves but it’s not as steep. Several parking lots have room for RVs but you may have to walk up some steep hills to get to the main street. The school has a small parking lot where short RVs will fit. Parking is also permitted in the large dirt lot on the opposite side of the street. Downtown is within walking distance.
Museum 39.30298, -119.65235 Virginia City