Scenes from Virginia City
We finally pulled out of Clark Canyon Reservoir. It wasn’t that we wanted it leave – it was beautiful, fairly quiet, and free! But, our waste tanks were full and we had places to go…
We made it all the way to Virginia City, a whooping 87 miles down the road. I wanted to see one last “ghost town” before we meandered on. We had been there years ago for about an hour but I wanted to spend more time exploring. We decided to stop at Virginia City RV Park, a full service park with Passport America rates. It was halfway up a giant hill just past the town and had a great view over the valley. Unfortunately, when we got there, we were told all their “Passport” spots were taken! There were only two other RVs in the park at the time. I would have just kept going. Ennis has some sites on the lake or on the Madison River (Montana Fishing Access Sites) and a couple of RV Parks but Mike wanted to stay (we needed a good flush and some water). So we did, but I grumbled about false advertising and such. Some of the sites were tight, some were unlevel, but most had a decent view in one direction or another. There was some highway noise when trucks would try to make it up the hill but for the most part, it was a clean, well taken care of, campground. A little over priced but what can you do…
Virginia City itself is a National Historic Landmark. It came into being in 1863 when gold was discovered in a nearby creek. As with all gold rush towns, it grew very quickly. So quickly in fact, that it became the territorial capitol when Bannack dried up. After a while, the gold dried up here also, and much of the town was abandoned. The Boveys began buying the town and restoring it beginning in the 1940s. In the 1950s, the town began attracting tourists. And there are lots of things for tourists to do here: gold panning, a train ride, summer theatre, more restaurants than one could eat at in a month… The state of Montana now owns most of the buildings and operates it as an open air museum.
We spent a few hours just walking around, long enough to enjoy the place but short enough to get away from the crowds when they started arriving. And the town does get crowded. We got there at nine and left around noon; around 11AM, the streets started filling up and walking down the sidewalk became an obstacle course of people.
We did find time to stop and eat and the Star Bakery and Restaurant. The buildings and the ‘decor’ are wonderful – original period pieces with a great rustic feeling. But, I think there were two completely different people preparing the food. Anything that was pre-prepped, the salsa, the sauces, the salad dressing, was excellent. The cooking itself? Not so much. My fish tacos were so over cooked that, had it not been for the salsa, would have been inedible. The pork sliders had excellent sauce but the pork itself was so cooked as to be unrecognizable as pork. Mike had a salad and said that wilted lettuce was hidden under fresh lettuce. Otherwise, the salad was good. We may have just met the place on a bad day for the line cook. We will never know. We also stopped in the Bakery side and got a loaf of banana bread and some orange croissant/danish (I’m not sure which it was). The orange C/D was heavenly. I mean, melt in your mouth fall off your chair good. I even went all the way back the next day to get more, as I had eaten all we had (they didn’t make them the next day). It had to be one of the best pastries I have ever had. The banana bread was good – very heavy, moist, and nutty. Not very banana-y, but good none the less.
We had a good time wandering around Virginia City, learned quite a bit, ate some food, slept well, and got back on the road.