When I was a kid, a million years ago, my treasures included some Mickey Mantle baseball cards, rare marbles, and my killer ride: a bike with high bars and banana seat… but my most valuable possession was my six-shooter cap gun with a real leather holster. Yup, I was a cowboy through and through, influenced by movie stars like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Alan Ladd, Henry Fonda and so many more.

   Fast forward a couple of decades and I somehow ended up on a ranch near Johnson City, Texas, working as a cowboy. Seriously, a real cowboy. A dream fulfilled! Minus the cap gun.

No wonder that Virginia City, Nevada holds a special place in my heart, where time stands still, allowing my imagination to run rampant again. An extraordinary travel destination that you will appreciate forever!

What fascinates me the most about this vibrant western town are the colourful characters of the past, and for the sake of inclusivity, the present.

There are many places in this world to visit as a tourist, but very few offer the historical significance of Virginia City, Nevada. In fact, this small town changed the world as we know it.

   It all began just before the Civil War, with prospectors searching for gold in the Sierra Nevada. They hit pay-dirt, with one of the most important gold and silver strikes in history, known as the Comstock Lode.

Here’s a bit of interesting trivia for our Canadian readers: Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, known familiarly as “Old Pancake” was born in Trenton, Ontario, Canada in 1820. He drifted out west as a fur trapper, and settled in the Great Basin’s Gold Canyon, turning to mining. In 1859, Henry Comstock and others discovered a rich silver vein and staked a claim at Gold Hill, giving his name to the ore deposit.

Virginia City became a boomtown overnight. At its peak, with a thriving metropolis of 25,000 people, the community of miners were eventually known as Comstockers.

   Sadly, the story doesn’t end well for ‘Old Pancake’ Comstock, though. Before realizing his fortune, he sold out and moved to Montana. In 1870, he shot and killed himself. But his name, at least, will live on forever.

To read the full story in Spencer Magazine’s Autumn/Winter issue, please click here!

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