Tourism Cares, a charitable organization
involved in the preservation of historical and natural sites, is
heading to the Wild West.
will gather 300 volunteers from May 17 to 19 to help restore the
mining boomtown of Virginia City, Nev.
"We're going to
clean up the town that the Cartwrights couldn't," said Bruce
Beckham, Tourism Care's executive director, referring to the family
of ranchers on the TV show "Bonanza," which was set
Located 26 miles
southeast of Reno, Virginia City sits on top of Comstock Lode, the
largest silver deposit in North America.
During the gold
rush days, before the mines were depleted near the end of the
1800s, the city was known as "the richest place in the world." It
produced so much wealth from gold and silver mines that the federal
government annexed the territory to help fund the Civil
It was a colorful
city of saloons, bordellos, instant millionaires and for a while
was the home of Samuel Clemens, who was the city editor of the
Territorial Enterprise in the early 1860s. It was while he lived in
Virginia City that Clemens first signed his name Mark
Once a thriving
boomtown of 30,000 people, Virginia City now has a population of
about 1,100 and doesn't have enough of a tax base to fund the
necessary maintenance of its historical sites, which include
Piper's Opera House, the Storey County Court House and the 1866
First Presbyterian Church.
"There's a lot of
history there," said Beckham, "a boot hill-type cemetery, wooden
sidewalks. The way we look at it, we're securing
To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].