we do love our Saloons….




About 25 miles southeast of Reno is the mountain-planted Virginia City, a small town with many throwbacks to its 19th century history, a history colored mostly by its popularity at the time as a mining town. Popularity of this sort at the time attracted a large variety of characters. Virginia City hosts a plethora of saloons, restaurants, gift shops, entertainment venues, and more.

The Delta Saloon is a treasure trove of memorabilia and historical stories.

This Old Globe [above] was presented to the Miners Union of Virginia City by James G. Fair in 1880.

Mr. Fair, who was making a successful race for U.S. Senators that year, had this Globe made on special order at the cost of $450.00. It is now valued in excess $100,000.00 due to its rarity of construction. The framework is made of rosewood and in addition has the unique feature of containing a built-in mariners compass in it’s base.

An item of note worthy interest concerning the Globe is the showing of the completion for the ATLANTIC CABLE which was laid in 1886. John Mackay (one of the original Bonanza Kings) of Virginia City, financed the laying of this Cable.

Of special interest inside the Delta Saloon is, the infamous Suicide Table.



In the mid 1860s, this table was a Faro game table. Faro was a popular casino game in the 19th century involving card matching. It was discontinued in most establishments because they eventually figured out that the game did not favor the house very much.

The first owner of the table, a man known as “Black Jake,” lost $70,000 in one evening. Distressed by the loss, Black Jake shot himself. The table then went to a second owner, who shall remain nameless because… well, mainly because we don’t actually know his name. He ran the table for one night and also lost greatly. That man died suddenly as well, some say by suicide and some say he was murdered. The table went unclaimed for many years as rumors of a curse were already circulating. In the late 1890s, some ballsy individual turned it into a “21” table (I am assuming they mean a Black Jack table?) and it was back in business. The story, however, doesn’t end there…

It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, they say it was. A drunk man stumbled in and bet his last possession, a gold ring, against a five dollar coin and won. He continued playing and by morning his winnings consisted of $86,000 plus a team of horses and an interest in a gold mine. The owner of the table has lost all of his worldly possessions and, like a broken record, committed suicide.

The Suicide Table is truly a relic that is replete with memories of the old town, and who knows, perhaps the ghosts of the old timers are still leaning on their elbows, watching for the turn of a card.


Awesome story, right?  But here is a bit more about the true “Silver Kings” of Virginia City.


Virginia City and the Silver Kings

In the mid-1800’s, Virginia City was one of the most important cities between Denver and San Francisco, due to the wealth of the silver mines and dedication of the miners and prospectors that arrived in the city from all over the world.

In 1869 four Irishmen, with little formal education, were brought together when John Mackay and James Fair, Virginia City miners shrewdly purchased controlling interest in the failing Hale and Norcross mine for $16,600. James Flood and William O’Brien, San Francisco saloon keepers turned stock brokers, were elected as directors and the die was cast for the Big Four.

Fair, appointed superintendent, increased production of the mine ten-fold within two years and as production increased, the Firm bought numerous mills for the processing of their ore. Exhausting their ore body by 1871, they looked for other ventures.

The barren Consolidated Virginia Mine lay between two rich producers, the Gould and Curry and the Ophir. Gamblers that they were, they proceeded to obtain possession of this property and in January of 1872, purchased it for approximately $50,000.

Fair immediately sank a shaft and within 14 months struck the fabulous “BIG BONANZA” 1167 feet below the surface. Their fortunes were made from this ore body which produced in excess of 135 million dollars which today would be a figure in excess of 2 billion dollars.

Unknown before their arrival on the Comstock, these four men had now attained wealth, power and influence rivaling the kings of Europe and were themselves given the title, “SILVER KINGS”.

Their fortunes made, O’Brien left for San Francisco and spent most of his time playing cards in a saloon on Kearney street. Flood build opulent mansions in and around San Francisco. Fair became U.S. Senator from Nevada. Mackay laid the First Trans-Atlantic and Pacific telegraph cable and established a trans-continental telegraph company to rival Western Union.

John Mackay, the most capable and respected of the four, remains revered and remembered for his great generosity to the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada, which was named in his honor.





 And while looking at some of the other Saloons in Virginia City – how is this for a great Saloon!  It also has a lot in common with our Palace Saloon… it rose from ashes.




In spite of its sinister name, The Bucket of Blood Saloon gives off the charm of the old-time hey-days with its many hanging lamps and mirrors. Memories of a time long ago await the visitor wandering into the bar for a cold drink in this cool oasis.

The BUCKET of BLOOD Saloon - “the Original”. This structure was constructed in 1876 after the great fire of 1875 which destroyed up to a thousand structures of the town. Most of the town’s core buildings were lost or sustained damage, unfortunately the first structure that previously occupied this location, like a lot of the other town’s buildings of that time was completely destroyed. Though the building you are currently viewing has gone through several renovations, iterations and operations since 1876, it like many of the other historical buildings throughout Virginia City survive as living history.

The masonry walls of the Old BUCKET predate the great fire of 1875. Shadows of doorways recall a time when enclosed stairs led down to the Boston Saloon. The BUCKET of BLOOD has long served as a local landmark in the center of Virginia City. Until recently no one realized that the Boston Saloon lay under an asphalt cap to the rear of the building.

The discovery of the Boston Saloon location in 1997, together with a subsequent test excavation, demonstrates that the site is rich with artifacts and has national importance. This business stayed at a single location through most of its existence, making it an anomaly at the outset. Defying the odds, remnants of the saloon survive in the archaeological record, escaping 125 years of development and bottle collecting. An asphalt parking lot currently caps the property, which the Comstock Archaeology Center excavated in September 2000. The Center is still completing analysis and cataloguing over the years. [Sound familiar to our parking lot?? Theres an entire book on this you can get at the library - ‘Celestials & Soiled Doves']


Oh my gosh, I just can’t stop….

Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon has the distinction as being the oldest existing hotel in Nevada, as it has been serving people since 1859 when it was built after the huge gold and silver discovery was made in the adjacent mountains.

The current building is a nice combination of the original stone and brick structure and the various renovations made throughout the years. As one enters, one passes a quaint outside patio eating area, before entering the original stone and brick first floor. As one steps into the great room, one notices that the room has a large fire place, with small tables on one side of the room, and on the other side of the room one sees a sitting area that has lovely, period-style furniture of the era.

A doorway from this sitting area leads into a fine 1962 brick and hand-laid stone addition, a cozy bar, with interesting decorum.


In 1986, the owners added a new kitchen and a new dining room off the other side of the great room. The dining room has lovely windows that overlook the mountains.


There is a winding staircase that connects the great room to the second floor guest rooms and hotel office and gift shop. The original five guest rooms are located over the original great room and new bar. Each has a verandah/balcony. These original 5 rooms are kept true to their original design, and are kept cool by ceiling fans and small unobtrusive fans in the windows, plus the lovely breezes that blow off their own verandahs/balconies. No televisions can be found in these rooms. They are furnished with antique furniture, both originals and reproductions. The bathroom in Room 4 has a huge, old fashioned bathtub.

The 1986 additions included 8 more new rooms, built over the new dining room and kitchen areas. While they have air conditioning and television, they are also decorated with antique furniture.


The original two story building described above was first known as The Riese House, until 1862 when Horace Vessy leased the property and built a 3 story wooden building adjacent to the original building. Offering fine dining and entertainment as well as rooms, the now Vessy Hotel flourished for twenty years. In 1887 it changed hands again, and became Capitol Hotel and Lodging. By 1890, the wooden building put up by Vessy was completely gone, but the original hotel building was going strong.

During the following years, the building was used as a hotel, a boarding house, a private residence. In the 1950s it once again became The Gold Hill Hotel. By 1958, the now sagging hotel was bought by Fred Doro, who renovated the entire structure, renewing its rooms and giving it yet 

another life. Under his watch, the 1962 bar was also added.

 In 1986, the hotel was bought by Carol and Bill Fain who not only renovated the place again, but added the new dining room, kitchen, and 8 new rooms upstairs. They also added the wooden structure that now wraps around the hotel.

But like several of our beloved haunted places here in Prescott, the Gold Hill also has it’s spirits….


The living aren't the only ones attracted to this old western hotel. Ghosts also are apparently appreciative of all the work done in the renovations.

Here’s some first hand sigtings…


1.    A female entity, "Rosie," resides in Room 4 — Some suspect that she may have been a lady of the night. She has taken a liking to this room, and has moved in.

a.   Upon walking into the room, people have been enveloped with the strong smell of roses.

b.  Rosie likes to turn the lights on and off in this room.

c.   Rosie likes to play tricks on the living by moving objects and personal belongings of the guests around.

d.   An incident told by Melody, the hotel's manager:
One lady had carefully laid out her belongings on the high poster, canopied bed, including her keys. The lady went into the bathroom for a moment. When she came back her keys were gone. After searching the room, she happened to once again look on the bureau, and there they were. The keys weren't there a moment before.


2.  "William" in Room 5 — This male entity is thought to be one of the 47 miners who died in the horrible fire that raced through the Yellowjacket Mine, that is just behind the hotel.

a.   Upon entering the room, people have smelled the strong odor of tobacco.


3.  When the hotel is quiet, Melody reports that a throng of unseen children can be heard giggling and running around the upstairs halls, always accompanied by the wonderful smell of chocolate chip cookies.


4.  A ghost hunters group, after a meeting at the hotel, set up their equipment and discovered that the great room is a popular spot for ghosts to hang out, like they probably did while they were alive.





















                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012