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       THE GHOSTS OF GOLD HILL
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STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH

For 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.

The Gold Hill Saloon & Hotel entrance in Virginia City, Nevada as seen in American Public House Review
COME ON IN
The Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon's porch in Virginia City, NV as seen in American Public House Review
OR ENJOY THE PORCH FOR A BIT

The Parlor at the Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon in Virginia City Nevada as seen in American Public House Review
THE PARLOR AT THE GOLD HILL HOTEL & SALOON

Tracks of the Virginia And Truckee Railroad near Virginia City, Nevada as seen i American Public House Review
GOLD HILL IS A MUSEUM OF RAILROAD HISTORY



A 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 mountains.

Tracks of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in NV as seen in American PublicHouse Review
TRACKS OF THE VIRGINA AND TRUCKEE RAILROAD
Ruins of a sluice near the Virginia and Truckee Railroad as seen in American Public House Review
RUINS OF A SLUICE

But 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 SHORT LINES" locomotive of the Virginia and Truckee railroad in Nevada as seen in American Public House Review
THE QUEEN OF THE SHORTLINES STEAM LOCOMOTIVE

As 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.

The bar at the Gold Hill Saloon in Virginai City, Nevada as seen in American Public House Review


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