C Street: Virginia City, Nevada
The legacy of the miners and prospectors remains along C Street where wooden-plank walkways, gas street lamps, historic buildings with awnings, and swinging saloon doors harken back to the time of the discovery of the Comstock Lode. In 1859, the discovery transformed the area from an encampment of tents along the slope of Mount Davidson into the "richest place on earth."
Approximately one mile starting north at 113 North C Street and 537 South C Street to the south.
Known for its 100-mile-views over Nevada's basin-and-range and late 19th century architecture, C Street is situated along sloping terrain. In 1966, Virginia City was named the nation's largest historic landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 1969, Nevada State Statute created the Comstock Historic District Commission that today oversees and regulates development for the preservation of the historic treasure. As a result, C Street is remarkably well-preserved, with its historic architecture and streetscape reminiscent of the Old West. Fans of the western television show Bonanza might recognize C Street, which was used when filming the Cartwright family's trips into town for supplies.
A handful of structures on C Street that were originally constructed in 1862 survived the fire of 1875. When more than half of Virginia City burned in that fire, it was rebuilt in a matter of months. To date, nearly all the buildings of Virginia City's heyday remain intact and in use along the C street corridor. Two of those buildings are the Fourth Ward School Museum and The Territorial Enterprise Building.
The Fourth Ward School, built in 1876 to honor the nation's centennial, is a prominent building on C Street. The four-story building could accommodate more than 1,000 students and boasted state-of-the-art heating, ventilation, and sanitation systems as well as water piped to all floors. Today, the Fourth Ward School is a museum where visitors can learn about the history of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode, which was the first major silver discovery in the U.S. The Territorial Enterprise Building was built in 1876 as the third and final office of Nevada's first newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise. In 1862, a young Samuel Clemens began his writing career as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise under the pen name of Mark Twain. Today, the building is the Mark Twain Museum.
Several preservation efforts for C Street have been made to continue its legacy. After undertaking an archeological survey of the Virginia City National Historic Landmark, Storey County crafted Project 85 which constitutes a total survey of all buildings in Virginia City, including those on C Street. Storey County also adopted a master plan in 1994, currently being updated, and local zoning ordinances that balance sustainable growth and modern mining with tourism and historic preservation.
Defining Characteristics, Features
Planning and Preservation
- In 1961, Virginia City along with C Street became part of nation's largest historic landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966
- In 1969, Nevada State Statute created Comstock Historic District Commission that today oversees and regulates development for preservation of historic landmark
- First comprehensive inventory of historic buildings and structures, known as the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HAER), undertaken in 1980 by Department of the Interior; inventory provided initial archaeological planning studies
- In 1985, Project 85 constituted a total survey of all buildings in Virginia City, including those on C Street. Project also proposed a cultural resources management plan and pointed toward development of the Virginia City Tourism Authority to encourage cultural tourism
- Storey County adopted master plan in 1994 and local zoning ordinances that balance sustainable growth and modern mining with tourism and historic preservation; now being updated
- Visitor's Center located on C Street helps market the historic area for tourism purposes.
- Most C Street buildings are mixture of masonry and wood frame dating after 1875 when fire swept through the city
- Territorial Enterprise Building built in 1876 as the third and final office of Nevada's first newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise; building is an example of vernacular 19 century commercial style; constructed with a high decorative parapet and a cast-iron storefront with fluted Tuscan pilasters
- Fourth Ward School architect C.M. Bennett may have drawn inspiration from popular 19th century architectural pattern books; Second Empire structure with distinctive Mansard roof
- Wooden-plank sidewalks which extend along C Street for several blocks and gas street lamps reflect the character of 19th century mining town
- Authentic Old-West character, countless 19th century buildings create experience where visitors can truly "step back in time"
- Nearly a million visit Virginia City and C Street each year; visitors enjoy laid-back shopping with gift shops, gourmet candy stores, and eclectic restaurants
- C Street is home to several museums including Fourth Ward School Museum, Comstock Firemen's Museum, the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise, and The Way It Was Museum
- Several unique events happen on C Street, including parades, Street Vibrations, and World Championship Outhouse Races