me personally Gold Hill, Nevada is the most peaceful point along
the Comstock. There is an almost Sedona quality to this stretch of high
desert. The ever changing dance of color, light and shadow against the
stark rugged terrain is the sort of thing that inspires painters, poets
and philosophers. And it might even motivate this dedicated denizen of
the Gold Hill Saloon to drag himself away from his comfortable position
at the bar long enough to sample the evening air.
Melody, the manager of the hotel and our delightful guide during this
visit assures me and my wife that spirits have extended their stays
well beyond their original dates of departure. I am not in the least
bit surprised – this particular location also being Nevada’s oldest
purveyor of overnight accommodations. But for me the real ghosts of
Gold Hill lie just beyond the doors of this striking old structure.
ENJOY THE PORCH FOR A BIT
short hike up the canyon brings me to a stretch of track where the
locomotives of the once prosperous Virginia and Truckee Railroad hauled
a thousand tons in ore and freight each day. Above the railway the
wooden skeletal remains of a sluice reaches toward the setting sun like
a mighty prehistoric beast standing defiantly against its inevitable
demise. A soft wind blows down from the heights carrying the faint
whisper of those that toiled and died in the manmade hollows of these
here in the Virginia Range resurrection is possible and ghosts do come
back from the dead.
Today the Virginia and Truckee is rolling again. Visitors can travel by
steam or diesel between Gold Hill and Virginia City from May through
October. And by 2010 “The Queen of the Short Lines” will extend her run
an additional seventeen miles providing service all the way to Carson
City. While it is highly unlikely that the vintage rolling stock of the
V&T will be hauling gold and silver ore anytime soon, some
provisions will have to be made for transport of the valuable
aggregate. It seems that a combination of the prevailing economic
conditions in the commodities market and new mining technologies has
given rise to the possibility of another bonanza on the Comstock.
THE QUEEN OF THE
SHORTLINES STEAM LOCOMOTIVE
for those whispers on the wind, it’s probably just the voices of
guests that have gathered on the balcony above the saloon wafting up
from below. I take this as my cue to put my feet on more stable ground
before dusk descends on the canyon.
By the time I work my way back to the bar my wife has already expanded
the possibilities of our Christmas card list. She has befriended a
group of bikers from the Pacific Northwest that have recently arrived
in Gold Hill for a family wedding. After a couple of more hours of
enjoying the cozy environs of this perfect setting we decide to move
the revelry elsewhere.
As I take advantage of our motorcycle escort back up the mountain to
Virginia City, I ponder my good fortune. Our stake in the Comstock has
yielded yet another rich find.