Chollar Mine- Virginia City

My AC wasn’t working still wasn’t working to its fullest potential. It was miserable and yucky. I considered turning around and going back to Reno, even though the Chollar Mine sounded intriguing to me.

Good thing I ignored that impulse; I found I actually quite liked the mine.

Instead of turning right out of the parking lot down the main street, I turned left onto a side street. To get to the Chollar Mine, you have to take a sharp turn onto another short road. I missed this turn off at first- hello, illegal u-turn!- Moments later, then, I found my way to the mine entrance. Or, rather, the road that would take me there.

I parked my car; there were a couple other vehicles, but no signs of anyone else. It seemed to be warmer here than up on the main drag. I went into the one building (again, no signs of life of fellow tourists- I assumed they were on a tour)- it bore resemblance to an old garage, the kind that might serve as a car mechanic shop.

In this one-room garage were three people: a couple guys, one on a ladder changing a light fixture, and an older lady behind a desk. I was told that the next tour would be in twenty minutes. I was also told that the tour would cost fifteen dollars.

A bit much? Maybe.

But I had a hunch it would be worth it, so I paid the amount and, since I had to use the restroom, I inquired as to where it was. Turns out, the restroom was a nice, rustic (and clean!!) outhouse.

I walked around outside for a bit- just a few paces around the property and enough to get ever so slightly sunburned- before venturing back into the old garage. It wasn’t long until I was joined by a couple from Utah- companions with whom I could share an adventure!

At one point while the now three person party was waiting for the tour to begin, a small family traipsed in. Loud chatter seemed to be the norm for these people, but they did not end up going on the tour because they thought it was too expensive.

Admittedly, it was a little pricey for the length, but I thought the money was well worth it. According to the tour guide later, the donations fund the maintenance and further expansion of the mine so- in the distant future- people will perhaps be able to go further in. But shoring up the earth and making the mine safe is expensive and it would be a long road ahead.

Ten or fifteen minutes passed by before the current tour ended. There were two or so free minutes when the guide introduced himself before then taking me and the other couple into the mine for our tour.

One thing I’ll say about it- it was very thorough and educational. I learn a good deal of information about the Chollar Mine and how it related to the history of Virginia City. I couldn’t have asked for a better tour and, I thought, well worth the $15 I paid for it. I love local gems like that and my gamble to go on the tour definitely paid off.

The riches in the Chollar Mine was first discovered around 1859 and was one of the leading producers of the Comstock Lode. Over a period of 80 years, at least $17 million worth of gold and silver were taken out of the mine.  Wowzers! (Is that a word? Oh well. It is for this entry at least.) That’s a heck of a lot. And what an awesome feat, too! Just goes to show how rich the earth is (or was? Still is in other ways?).

At one point in Virginia City’s history, when it was discovered how valuable the silver was, the Main Street was actually dug up.

Why, you may ask?

It was made with silver dust.

“How much silver dust would I need to make a pair of earrings?” Oh, so clever, I thought.

The guide deadpanned, “Maybe a ton or so?”

Ok, then. Let me just go get the ton of silver I see laying around and get to work.

The tour was over all too soon, unfortunately. I wish it could have gone on longer; as it was, I soaked in all the information I could. Then I hopped in my car and drove back to Reno. Although I considered stopping at a casino along the way, I ultimately opted not to- but I did go to Starbucks and bought an Mango Dragonfruit refresher. And a Nevada mug. It was a random spur-of-the-moment purchase, which was sort of a gamble, right? Right??

I’ll show myself out.

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