Tourism Cares scopes out Virginia City, Nev., for next project

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Tourism Cares, the charitable offshoot of the National Tour Association and the U.S. Tour Operators Association that preserves and maintains historic and natural treasures, chose Virginia City, Nev., as its next volunteer cleanup site. 

The organization will take about 300 volunteers to the historic mining city May 17 to 19 to help restore some of its historic sites.

Situated on a mountainside on top of Comstock Lode, the largest silver deposit in North America, the historic mining city was known as "the richest place in the world" during the Gold Rush days of the 1800s. It produced so much wealth from gold and silver mines that the federal government annexed the territory to help fund the Civil War.

According to its history, it was a colorful city of saloons, bordellos, instant millionaires and the home of one Samuel Clemens, who was the city editor of the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in the early 1860s.

Once a thriving boomtown of 30,000 people, Virginia City now has a population of only 1,100, and not enough of a tax base to fund the necessary maintenance of its historic sites, which include Piper's Opera House, the Storey County Court House and the 1866 First Presbyterian Church.

"It so fits our mission to protect historic sites," said Lisa Schmiemann, director of development of Tourism Cares. "If we don't do it, nobody will."

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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