The great thing about traveling is it opens your eyes to the fact that there is history all over this world and with history comes the paranormal! History and ghost stories become intertwined telling the story of a location’s past.
Virginia City, Nevada is located northeast of the capital of Nevada, Carson City and southeast of Nevada’s third largest city, Reno. In the late 1800s, Virginia City became the the most important industrial center between Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California due to the gold and silver mining in the city. The millions of dollars worth of gold and silver that miners pulled from the shafts beneath the city brought wealth to Virginia City. Mansions were built, furniture and fashion were imported from Europe and fine dining and and entertainment took over the city. All of this wealth was noticed by then president Abraham Lincoln, who made Nevada a territory in March of 1861 and then three years later it became an official state.
Visiting Virginia City today is like stepping back in time, from old time shops to historic saloons. One of the can’t miss stops in Virginia City is the Washoe Club.
In 1870, an exclusive bar, the Old Washoe Club (nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Club”) opened as a meeting place for the elite men of Virginia City. Some famous visitors to the Old Washoe Club were the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S Grant and writer Samuel Clemens (more widely known as Mark Twain). Did you know that it was while writing for the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise that Samuel Clemens first used the pen name Mark Twain?
What used to be an elite club, can now be visited by all as the oldest saloon in Virginia City as well as a Haunted Museum with ghost tours offered daily. As a town with so much history, there are many places that are considered haunted in Virginia City, but the Washoe Club has been known to have the most paranormal activity of any place in Virginia City as well as one of the most haunted places in the state of Nevada. The Washoe Club is considered so haunted that it was featured in the documentary that started the Travel Channel’s show, Ghost Adventures. It has since been featured on Ghost Adventures multiple times since then as well.
The ghost tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and covers three floors of the building. Not only has Ghost Adventures been to the Washoe Club multiple times, while I was on the tour, there were a few people who had been on the tour multiple times. They return because there have been paranormal sightings during tours. The tour guide (who was featured on Ghost Adventures) shared photos that other guests had taken during the tour that showed what appeared to be ghosts in the photos.
The building has been home to many deaths which may be the reason for so many ghost sightings there. First off, in the winter months when the ground was frozen, they used to store dead bodies in a room in the back of the building. This room became known as the crypt. Not hard to believe that ghosts of some of these bodies might have stuck around all these years later.
There have also been deaths that have occurred in the building. A bartender in the club committed suicide by a gunshot after hearing that his teenage son fell to his death in an abandoned mine shaft. There is also the lady, who’s ghost is often scene at the top of the spiral staircase, who people believe was a prostitute that was killed by a member of the Millionaires Club. Ghost sighting or not, the spiral staircase is definitely something worth seeing. Built in 1870, it’s the longest spiral staircase without a supporting pole.
But probably the creepiest of sights in the Washoe Club is the Annabelle doll. It sits on a small rocking chair and has been known to move on it’s own. The doll belonged to a young girl who died in an explosion in the building, people believe that when the doll moves that it’s the young girl’s ghost playing with her favorite doll. Ghost or not, it’s definitely the scariest doll I’ve ever seen. Why are all dolls named Annabelle so scary?
If the day time ghost tour isn’t scary enough for you, they also offer overnight ghost investigations. Imagine being locked down in this haunted building just like the team from Ghost Adventures! I’m not sure I’d be up for that especially with that creepy Annabelle doll in the building. Anyone willing to try the overnight investigation?
If you happen to be visiting Reno or Lake Tahoe, a day trip up to Virginia City is more than worth it. Not only is this ghost tour at the Old Washoe Club great, but there are definitely plenty of other things to see and do for the entire family. Walk around and check out the historic buildings and museums, take a mine tour, take a train ride, see a live shoot out performance, interact with the time period actors walking the street, check out the shops or have a drink in one of the many historic bars.
While in Virginia City make sure to be on the lookout for paranormal activity, you never know what you will experience in the haunted and historical town.
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