Virginia City, Montana part 3
July 30-31, 2007.
We are staying in Cameron RV-Park & Store in Cameron, Montana. Cameron is a STORE located 10-miles south of Ennis in the Madison Valley. The Cameron RV-Park is about 12 sites located behind the Store & Saloon (the social gathering place for miles around). The PPA campground is nothing fancy but for the PPA price of $12.50 for FHU it is just fine. The view over the Madison Valley and mountains surrounding Virginia City is worth the $12.50.
For those of you that are not familiar with PPA (Pass Port America) it is an organization you can join for less than $50 per-year. Campgrounds that belong to PPA offer 1/2 price discounts. That kind of savings can quickly add up. While participating PPA parks generally have some restrictions on dates the PPA offer is valid, or possibly days of the week the discount is valid, or perhaps the number of days that the PPA discount will be honored the discount is genuine. Many times PPA campgrounds are new campgrounds that need help in getting established. Other times PPA campgrounds may be on the outskirts of town instead of in the "prime" location thus they need to provide an incentive for campers to stay with them. Whatever the reason PPA campgrounds generally provide a much cheaper option. PPA is the only campground organization that I think is worth the cost. PPA does not have a gimic. What you see is what you get. Once you join they send you a directory listing all participating campgrounds. The PPA directory is the FIRST directory we check when trying to locate a place to spend the night. You can join PPA by calling 228-452-9972. If you decide to join PPA, it would be nice if you gave them my number "R-0156251" as the PPA member that told you about PPA. In return PPA will give me $10 cred toward next years membership. I will thank you in advance for that kindness. Thank you.
We visited Virginia City located 14-miles west of present day Ennis several times. Virginia City is a city that has literally stood still in time. Virginia City IS Montana history! Virginia City was making history long before Montana was a state, even before Montana was a "Territory" it was what attracted white men to present day Montana. It was here before the LAW arrived, before government.
Now that I have hopefully, gotten your attention let's visit Virginia City.
Prospectors found placer gold (gold dust in stream beds) along a streambed choked with alder trees in May, 1863. Remember that this was in the middle of the Civil War (1861 - 1865). Thousands came from every corner of the world to try their luck in the placer mines and, perhaps, to garner a piece of the "gold" treasure. A brief but turbulent period of lawlessness and vigilante justice existed during the Civil War Years. Take a moment and ponder the fact that Virginia City (east end of Alder Gulch) was here as a gold mining Mecca a full year before the Montana Territory was created.
The gold rush in Alder Gulch produced the largest amount of placer gold in the Northwest an estimated $120 million. Placer gold mining, or free gold prospecting, should not be confused with hard rock gold mining. Placer mining involves dust, flakes, and nuggets, while hard rock mining involves veins of ore.
Bypassed by the railroad, Virginia City struggled. Gold dredging operations from the 1890's to the 1940's saved the town from total abandonment. Then, Charles and Sue Bovey began buying the dilapidated gold-rush era buildings in the 1940's. Virginia City became one of the first preservation efforts in the West and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. The gold rush-era false-fronts and territorial-period landmarks reflect the optimism of Virginia City's early residents, providing a unique window to the past.
Old sod roof building on Virginia Citie's Main Street
This old building with a sod roof is located on the west end of Virginia City. Sod roofs were fairly common back in the late 1800s.
We spotted this "Cowboy Church" in a gravel parking lot on the west end of Virginia City. We had to stop and get a better look. Look closely at the sign out front. It says "Cowboy Church Services". We saw that sign from the highway and decided to stop and investigate.
Joyce peaked in the front door to get a better look. This appears to be the real deal complete with hay bale seating. A cowboy should feel right at home on a bale of hay. I do not think this is a Southern Baptist church since there is no organ or piano. That is a requirement; isn't it? VBG
Boot Hill Located on a hill overlooking Virginia City
Boot Hill is located on the north side of town. Notice the remains of this old cobblestone building on the way up Boot Hill that caught our attention. A cobblestone building would be much more expensive to construct back in the 1800s and would probably belong to someone with wealth.
Boot Hill is covered here: Virginia City Boot Hill and Road Agents Graves
How the Road Agents ended up in Boot Hill is covered here: The story of George Ives & the Vigilante Movement of Alder Gulch, Montana
View from Boot Hill on a hill overlooking Virginia City
This is a view of main street in Virginia City as seen from Boot Hill.
Old Virginia City buildings
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
We hope you liked this page. If you do you might be interested in some of our other Travel Adventures:
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Until next time remember how good life is.