“The next passage in my journey is a love affair. I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love, and it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” – John Steinbeck – Travels with Charley in Search of America
Anyone that has had a conversation with me knows that I talk about Montana nearly as much as I breathe. It is so beautiful and so stunning that I cannot keep away from it for long. It was a privilege to introduce Sara to the place that owns my heart.We took the amazingly scenic drive to Virginia City and Nevada City from Bozeman.
Both are along Alder Gulch, the site of a huge ass placer gold strike in the mid-1800s, thanks to the discovery by Bill Fairweather and Henry Edgar.
checked out the stores and exhibits.
The guys to the left are TOTALLY not real people. I don’t know what is going on underneath that blanket, either.
One of the super duper cool parts about Virginia City are the stories about Road Agents and Vigilantes. Gather ’round the campfire. . .This story begins with Henry Plummer. He served time for a killing a man in California (“self defense” over a woman.) When he got out, he headed to Idaho, where he continued being a bad, bad man. Henry had to hightail it out of Idaho or be lynched for murder and ended up in Bannack, MT where he friggen becomes the Sheriff! “Holy Crap!” you just thought. Yea. Major Suckage.
Anyway, Miners traveling with their gold were being robbed/killed. This was being done by a gang of road agents called “The Innocents.” They totally had secret handshakes and shit. They always seemed to know when and where the wagons would be. Hmmmm… The miners were so not happy about that and formed the Vigilantes to bust some caps into their asses. Or hang them. Whichever. The place where some of the hangings took place is a sort of museum in Virginia City. For some reason, we did not find it at all morbid to stand beneath the wooden beam where criminals were hung. See, it’s actually cool because it was bad dudes during the GOLD RUSH! Historical deaths. Yaay!
The Vigilantes eventually figured out that the Innocents were getting their intel from Henry Friggen Plummer. He was taken care of back in Bannack. Ouch!
Nevada City is just down the road from Virginia City. In the 1940s, a couple named Sue and Charles Bovey started to collect old buildings from around Montana and Idaho and eventually placed them here, alongside original structures.
We stopped to look cool in front of an old train before heading over to check it out.
Virginia and Nevada Cities do have tours available, if you are that type…We wandered about and read the placards on the buildings instead.
Back then, I bet the girls at the Saloon looked a lot like this:
Many years ago, I was in Virginia City at the Saloon with a friend. There were a bunch of hunters there; still wearing their sharp-ass knives in holsters. They had clearly been out in the wild with no showers for a while. It wasn’t long before we all knew where “that smell” came from. They danced their asses off to the band with some young ladies. Meanwhile, a bunch of guys that came in on a bus from Butte, MT were fist fighting outside. My friend and I just enjoyed being in a rockin’ historical bar… and he was polite enough to not throw me out of a window when my pointy heels kept jabbing into his feet as I attempted to two step with him.
Ah, Montana: I Live For You.
Leaving you with my favorite picture from a trip to Montana years ago…..
(p.s. Eternal Thanks to BB, without whom I may not have known what beauty lies North and East of Los Angeles.)