Monday, October 31, 2011

What I Discovered on the Way to the Post Office

Virginia City, Montana Post Office 2011
In a time not so long ago and a place not so far away - men discovered gold in a place called Alder Gulch (May 26, 1863).  As the way of the world, nine mining camps popped up along a 14 mile stretch of Alder creek within a week of the gold discovery.  Within a year of the gold discovery Congress created the Territory of Montana.  Virginia City was the middle camp in the original nine.

Alder Gulch was estimated to have a population of 10,000 that first year.  Most of that 10,000 lived in Virginia City, Montana.  It was home to the controversial organization that was known as the Vigilantes of Montana.  It is a city connected to many important historic events.

              • Montana's first Masonic Lodge
              • 1st Montana Newspaper (Montana Post)
              • 1st public school -1866
              • 1st Meeting of the Montana Historical Society - 1899
              • Territorial Capital - (1865 - 1875)
              • The Montana National Guard was organized - 1885
              • 1st Montana Town to get a telegraph -1866

What is amazing is how many of the original buildings are still here.   In 1961 Virginia City was designated a National Historic Landmark.  In 1966 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1902 Virginia City had 28 telephones.  In 2010 cellular service finally arrived.  Today there are about 150 residents.  Virginia City is a town filled with living history.   During the summer the town welcomes visitors who have come for a glimpse of another time.    One YouTube video (clayguy1) says it well, you can look "through windows to a bygone time".

One of my presentations at the Montana State Reading Conference dealt with Historic Digital Newspapers.  The newspapers I used were from Virginia City's - Montana Post, part of Chronicling America that was digitized by the Montana Historical Society. The Library of Congress is one of the partners of this project.  Every state has digitized some of their historic newspapers.


Links of interest

Audio Tour of Virginia City -   

Photos of Virginia City - MT Historical Society/Library of Congress.  
Contents Corner was the name of the building that acted as Territorial Government Offices.  It was located at 300 West Wallace (the territorial capital offices were on the 2nd floor).  Teaching Montana History Blog

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  1. This make me wonder, again, if some of our buildings today will be here decades from now, studied with interest by those in the future? I enjoyed your background history and the photos. Hard to believe all are still standing, although the climate for the wood helps I know. Thanks for all the links. It would be interesting to live there in that town with so many ghosts.

  2. I love this journey with you to places I haven't been with photos and videos. Love it!

  3. The Virginia City Players - a theater group perform at the Opera House. They are a group that perform melodrama similar to what would have been performed in the 1800's.

    The Brewery has also been turned into a theater. The Brewery Follies - Adult comedy perform there.


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