As the county seat of Madison County, Montana, Virginia City keeps the history of the Victorian Era alive. After booming in the late 1800s with the advent of a gold rush, the town practically froze in time once the gold ran out. Today, it’s vibrant display of living history with a thriving community of reenactors and local historians. Roam the town, check out the shops, and still make it back to Three Forks in time for a nightcap before bed. Here’s what you should add to the agenda when you take a day trip to Virginia City.
On the way, plan a stop at Ennis Lake for a little bird watching over your morning coffee (ordered to go). Enjoy the vistas and take some time to kick back before a day of adventures. From there, it’s a quick drive to get to town.
Wander Historic Streets
The whole town is an adventure into living history, with interpretive information located in most of the buildings; featuring museum-style displays at the entryways to the clapboard and log buildings. Poke your head in, and you might just learn something about the lively history of the city.
Train Ride to Nevada City
Discover these historic towns in a classic way when you take the train from Virginia City to nearby Nevada City. Though historically, the railroad never reached Virginia City (ending 10 miles away), the open-air train car is still a great way to beat the summer heat and learn a little about the area. Kick back to enjoy the passing scenery, and get into the experience.
See Some Spooks
Boot Hill Cemetery holds the graves of the infamous road agents led by Henry Plummer, hanged for their crimes by vigilantes in 1863. You can still see the graves today, isolated from the rest of the scenic hilltop cemetery. Ghost Tours are a great way to up the chill factor even more, when you follow your ghost host through the streets and back alleys to hear the spooky stories of days gone by.
Get your period photo taken
Dress up in period duds from the gold rush era and have a family photo taken, perfect to display in its classic sepia tones. You’ll love to ham it up for the camera in corsets and top hats, and the keepsake you’ll take with you can grace your walls for years to come.
Virginia City Players
The Virginia City Players offer family-friendly vaudeville shows that perfectly capture the era of the town’s height. A melodrama starts off the production, ending with the vaudeville portion after intermission.
If your sense of humor doesn’t have a filter, you’ll love to laugh at the Brewery Follies. This is not a show for the easily offended, as no one is safe from the bawdy humor and ribaldry of this performance. Part musical, part sketch, the players get into the jokes and rope the audience in too. Try some brews at the home of Montana’s first brewery, the HS Gilbert, and get ready to laugh.
On the way back…
Make a stop at Norris Hot Springs on the way back to the Sac. The snacks, the sweets, and beers on tap all go perfectly with the relaxing soak, that is waiting for you after a hard day of history.
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