Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Boom Town Gone Bust

Virginia City (and its sister city Nevada City) saw its heyday in the mid-1860’s when gold was discovered in Alder Gulch.  Stores and cabins lined the streets and stretched half a dozen blocks deep.  When the gold mining dried up, so did the town.  Over the years the residents left and time froze creating a Victorian-era western ghost town. In 1955, there were only two residents left.  Today, the town has grown to a whopping 180 residents and proudly boasts that it is the best preserved western town in the country.  Over 175 original historic buildings have been restored and brought to the area which draws a multitude of tourists.  The bustling summer season has dusted off the cobwebs on these ghost towns and brought new life to them.

Charles Bovey is the man credited with the "second discovery" of Alder Gulch.  His love for the unique history and charm of the area spurred him to begin purchasing buildings and property in the late 1940's, thus saving many of them from the wrecking ball.  In 1961, Virginia City was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The town has ample saloons, restaurants, shops, banks, and a historic museum.
The Bale of Hay is an authentic old west saloon that has live music and festivals all summer long.  And, features some of Montana's best microbrews.
Many of the buildings have been preserved to depict the time period and use of the stores like this barber shop.
In the late 1800's this was the largest mercantile store in Montana.  Here you could purchase hardware, food, clothing, hay, grain, and whiskey by the barrel.
Horse and stagecoach rides are offered to provide visitors with a narrated tour of the city.
The Fairweather Inn is still open for business where you can enjoy rooms furnished in the style of the late 1800's and is conviently located downtown.
I have nothing to say about this old car sitting in the road, I just thought it fits in very well with the towns' character.
We happened to stumble upon Cousins Candy Shop when they were cutting and hand-wrapping mint saltwater taffy.
Cousins has more than just taffy so grab a paper bag and start filling it up.
The free historical museum has a little bit of everything from a barber chair to a chuck wagon.  There are also old clothes, photographs, maps, guns, and a rather old wildlife display.
Many of the buildings are used  as retail stores or restaurants.  We were early enough in their season to not have to fight the crowds.  


  1. Mike's cousin-in-law used to work in that candy store!

  2. I had a good laugh after doing a double-take at that barber photo.

  3. I think I am going to have to start a whole new bucket list after seeing your posts. Alder Gulch has to be put on the list. Great pics.


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