GHOST TRAIL Northern Nevada Heritage Corridor Driving Guide
NORTHERN NEVADA GHOST TRAIL hosts in Northern Nevada aren’t of the ghoulish campfire variety. Here, they tell stories of the past … of the colorful characters of the Comstock era, when silver was king and Virginia City was the cultural center of the Western expansion, or when getting a divorce required establishing residency in Reno during an extended stay. Whether it’s Lake Tahoe’s smoky showrooms that hosted characters like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe during the golden age of casinos, or the pioneer families of rural settlements like Genoa, the apparitions that appear to some today are a reminder of connection between history and place.
Fourth Ward School Museum
The Comstock sites of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and areas of Dayton are all part of a National Historic Landmark. For more information on sites and events in the Virginia City area please visit Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority y 86 South C Street y 800.718.7587 775.847.7500 www.visitvirginiacitynv.com
Silver Terrace Cemeteries On the dramatic, windswept hillsides of Virginia City, among the abandoned mines that remind visitors of the Comstock’s heyday, reside the Silver Terrace Cemeteries. The ornate, Victorian-era plots tell the stories of Virginia City’s history and immigrant culture, capturing their profiles in colorful inscriptions. The Silver Terrace Cemeteries host more than 100 visitors a day during the summer months. y End of North E Street (Off C Street business district) y Open 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. daily y More information www.comstockcemeteryfoundation.com
From Virginia City’s southern entrance, visitors will delight in the Fourth Ward School, made famous as the inspiration for the haunted house at Walt Disney World. Constructed in 1876, the Second Empirestyle building was designed for 1,025 grammar and high school students. The building was shuttered for 50 years before preservationists reopened it as a museum with exhibits and interpretive displays. y y y
537 South C Street Open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily May 1 through October 31 Admission Adults $5, children $3 (ages 6-16) Children under 6 free with an adult More information 775.847.0975 www.fourthwardschool.org
Photo by Candace Wheeler; Voices of the Past; A Cemetery Performance
Courtesy of Comstock Historic District Commission
Piper’s Opera House Built between 1863 and 1865, Piper’s Opera House is considered one of the nation’s most famous performance venues and one of the most significant vintage theaters in America. Piper’s is also one of the Comstock’s centers for the supernatural. Manifestations of John Piper himself are often said to appear in the building; visitors often detect a strong cigar odor despite a strict no-smoking policy. In the upper left proscenium box, a young woman believed to be the incarnation of a period prostitute has been seen looking down. y y y
1 North B Street Call for operating hours and schedule of events More information 775.847.0433 www.pipersoperahouse.com
St. Mary’s Art Center
The first stop for any ghost hunter at St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City is Room 11. This is where the “White Nun” is said to frequently stop during her rounds at the former hospital. Accounts have her apparition appearing late at night from one of the windows on the second floor. The building now serves as a center for art retreats and conferences, but the history, dating back to 1875 when it was built by the Daughters of Charity and Father Patrick Manogue on land donated by Mrs. John W. (Mary Louise) Mackay, lives on.
Built of brick in the Italianate style, the Mackay Mansion first served as the Gould and Curry Mining Company offices and provided accommodations for the company mine superintendent. The building survived Virginia City’s Great Fire of 1875, after which it became a local business headquarters and residence for one of the most powerful and wealthy men on the Comstock, John Mackay. Of spirits past, the mansion has many. A female Victorian-era ghost sits in a high-backed chair in the living room and moves around on the third floor. The “Child in White” likes to muss the freshly made bed in another upstairs room. A former servant busies herself, traipsing up and down the staircase to finish her chores, while a retired army colonel sits and passes time in the kitchen.
55 North R Street Open 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday Half- hour tours run May – October y More information 775.847.7774 www.stmarysartcenter.org y y
Artist: Local Photographer Tony Allen
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129 South D Street Privately owned; tours by reservation only More information 775.847.0173
Photo by Candace Wheeler
Washoe Club Originally called the Millionaires Club, Virginia City’s Washoe Club gave sanctuary to nouveau riche men enjoying the pleasures of their wealth. From the respectable façade, through a door at the top of the extraordinary winding staircase, the men crossed into a world of gambling, cigars, liquor and prostitutes. A lovely blonde apparition, known as the “Lady in Blue,” appears on the spiral staircase so often that patrons have given her a name, calling her “Lena.” The spirits who reside here seem to be particularly unhappy, they are known to throw things, move furniture, open and close doors and poke unsuspecting folks. The Washoe Club is the oldest saloon in Virginia City. Plan to stop by for a drink and possible ghost sightings. 112 South C Street Open 11:00 a.m. until closing y More information 775.847.7210 y y
Gold Hill Hotel The Gold Hill Hotel is home to the spirits of Rose and William. Rose manifests as the scent of “Attar of Roses” perfume, while William uses strong pipe tobacco. There is also a noisy, giggling gaggle of children who like to run up and down the halls, and a heavy-footed individual who prefers the stairway. These manifestations are so common that the hotel staff doesn’t even miss a beat when they occur. Behind the hotel is a miner’s cabin and the entrance to the Yellow Jacket Mine. This mine had a fire in 1869 that caused the mine to collapse and explode, sending smoke into the Crown Point and Kentucky Mines. The fire killed 35 men and the miners reported finding smoldering timbers for two years. Walking along the bluff, people have heard pick-and-shovel noises and murmured voices. y y
One mile south of Virginia City on Hwy 342 More information 775.847.0111
Courtesy of Comstock Historic District Commission
Gold Hill was founded in 1859 by four friends, James “Ole Virginia” Fenimore, Jack Yount, John Bishop, and Alec Henderson. Located two miles south of Virginia City, the town’s fortunes rose and fell with the Comstock mines. Gold Hill was known for its six mines that produced several million dollars worth of gold and silver by 1880. Many of the men buried at the Gold Hill Cemeteries were miners who died in mining accidents. y From the Gold Hill Hotel, travel south on HWY 342 approxiamtely 0.3 miles until you reach a dirt road on right, turn right onto dirt road. At top of hill take sharp right, follow as it winds around cemetery. There is a gate on the south side.
Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walks
SILVER CITY Silver City Cemetery Silver City dates to 1859, resting on a weak spur of the Comstock Lode. The people of Silver City attempted mining, but milling proved more profitable. It took Comstock miners a while to discover that the local bluish mud was actually silver, but two early prospectors who lived where Silver City would be founded realized its importance. Hosea and Ethan Allan Grosch discovered silver ore in the midst of gold mining, but what they knew died with them. In 1857 the Grosch brothers tragically died within three weeks of each other. Hosea suffered blood poisoning from a foot wound and Ethan Allan froze in a stream. The cemetery is located east of town. y From the Gold Hill Hotel take HWY 342 2.2 miles to Silver City, turn up 2nd Street, right on High Street, left at first dirt road, cemetery is on right. If traveling from Carson City, take HWY 341, turn onto 342 to Silver City.
For more information on sites and events in the Carson City area please visit the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau 1900 South Carson St., Suite 100 y
800.NEVADA.1 or 775.687.7410 www.visitcarsoncity.com
Those who dare to take the guided Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walk will have chance encounters with spirits of the past. This 90-minute tour starts at the Nevada State Museum, winding through Carson City’s Victorian-era historic district. Hosts wear period costumes, portraying ghosts and other prominent figures from Carson City’s storied past. y
Thanks largely to Mark Twain’s book Roughing It, legendary stagecoach driver Hank Monk is better remembered than the pillars of local society buried around him at Lone Mountain Cemetery. These grounds record the history of the rich and poor, famous and infamous, and often offer the sole artifact to tell the story of the community and individuals who formed it. Those who rest at Lone Mountain include Abram Curry, the founder of Carson City; and Jennie Clemens, daughter of Orion Clemens and niece of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Henry William Lockerman, an African American Civil War soldier. A map and walking tour book is available at the cemetery office. y
1044 Beverly Drive: From Carson Street, turn east on Winnie Lane, right on Roop Street, left on Beverly Drive. Open 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday More information 775.887.2111
Tours available the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and the third Saturday in October. For more information contact the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800.NEVADA.1 or 775.687.7410
Lone Mountain Cemetery Procession, Courtesy Nevada State Museum, Carson City, Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs
The Edwards House
The Brewery Arts Center
The Brewery Arts Center is also the subject of ghostly reports. Several visitors to the building report the feeling of being watched and have heard unexplainable noises. One witness claimed to have seen a man dapperly dressed in a brown checked suit with a vest and yellow tie. The ghost is believed to be James P. Maar, a one-time officer in the local Masonic Lodge that met for many years in the building, and who was in charge of keeping order in the hall. It is said that the ghost is always polite and acts like a gentleman. This performing arts center is open to the public year round, including an art gallery and artisans store. Check out their web site for the performing arts calendar. y 449 W. King Street y Open year round y More information 775.883.1976 www.breweryarts.org
Completed in July 1909, the Governor’s Mansion is a commanding Neo Classical Revival building. The stone mansion has been haunted since the 1950s, when a friend presented the governor with an antique mantel clock that apparently contained spiritual energy suspended in time. Parlor doors open by themselves, and some visitors detect a cold, drifting presence. For many years, staff and overnight guests have reported seeing and hearing a woman in a long white dress followed by a young girl wandering the second floor. Despite numerous sightings, no one is quite sure who they are or why they haunt the mansion, although some have speculated that they are former First Lady Una Dickerson and her daughter, June Dickerson, the only child ever born in the house. y y
606 North Mountain Street More information 775.687.3000
The Edwards House is another haunted residence that, according to local lore, was home to a ghostly housekeeper. In the late 1800s, Mrs. Maria Anderson served as the housekeeper and nanny for the Edward family. It is said that her favorite furnishing was a piano that had been shipped around the Cape to Carson City. The piano never needs dusting - even today - because the ghost of Mrs. Anderson continues to keep it clean. In addition, several people have reported seeing Mrs. Anderson sitting in the home’s big bay window - as she once loved to do when she was alive. y y
204 N. Minnesota Street Private, but open to the public on Memorial Day Weekend and during the Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walk (third Saturday in October) More information 775.687.7410 or 800.NEVADA.1
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Silver Terrace Cemeteries Fourth Ward School Museum Piper’s Opera House St. Mary’s Art Center Mackay Mansion Washoe Club Gold Hill Hotel Gold Hill Cemetery Silver City Cemetery Lone Mountain Cemetery Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walks The Brewery Arts Center Governor’s Mansion The Edwards House Sears-Ferris House Carson Pioneer Cemetery The Ormsby County Poor Farm Cemetery Empire Cemetery Genoa Cemetery Wild Rose Inn Mottsville Cemetery Garden Cemetery Bowers Mansion Tombstone Franktown Creek Cemetery Sauer Family Cemetery Thunderbird Lodge Cal Neva Resort Hillside Cemetery Mountain View Cemetery Morrill Hall
Sears-Ferris House Yet another ghost story involves the boyhood home of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. In the early 1900s, a lavish wedding party was being held in the home. Several guests at the party spoke to a woman dressed in a wedding gown (who was not the bride) near the back gate. The guests later asked the confused father of the bride why there were two brides at the wedding. He said there was only one bride despite their claims to having seen a second one. Later, it was discovered that there had been a wedding party in the house years earlier. It is said that the ghost of the first bride returned to watch over the party. y 311 W. Third Street on southeast corner of Third and S. Division streets y Private, but open to the public on Memorial Day Weekend and during the Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walk (third Saturday in October) y More information 775.687-7410 or 800.NEVADA.
Carson Pioneer Cemetery
Pioneer Cemetery is the first known cemetery in Carson City. It was once the final resting place for Major William Ormsby and his scout, William S. Allen after they were killed at the Battle of Pyramid Lake on May 12, 1860. While Allen’s grave remains, Mayor Ormsby’s body was moved to Carson City in 1907 by his family. Today, a large granite cross, dedicated to Ormbsy and Allen, stands erect along with a handful of remaining headstones. y Drive west on Fifth Street As Fifth Street
Many founders of the community of Empire as well as Carson City are buried at Empire Cemetery. Most prominent is the founder of Empire City himself, Nicholas Ambrose, who was born October 8, 1824 and died May 22, 1880. His wife, Rebecca is also buried there. One of Mark Twain’s early attempts at fictional hoaxes involved Nicholas “Dutch Nick” Ambose’s establishment. He wrote of a horrific murder-suicide, with the dying assailant at the doorstep of the way station. The hoax failed, leaving Twain embarassed because other newpapers took it seriously. The incident left him determined to do better with his next experiment in writing.
curves sharply to the left and turns into Terrace Street, there is an empty lot between two houses. Park and hike about 150 feet up hill to the cemetery.
The Ormsby County Poor Farm Cemetery The Ormsby Poor Farm was a place for folks down on their luck who could not afford a place to stay. The farm was located at the southwest end of Carson City, south of what is now Fuji Park south of Clear Creek. Located in a small fenced area are the graves of two Civil War veterans, John Thoroughman and James Johnson. y Turn right onto Clear Creek Road, left into Fuji Park and park in lot. The gravesite is located in a wooded area near the southeast end of the park. The site is somewhat diff icult to f ind, but if you pass south through the equestrian center and head to the west, you will see the graves in a fenced area beneath the trees.
y East on William Street (HWY 50), turn right on Deer Run Road, right at BLM Field Office; drive 0.4 mile, turn right on dirt road, immediate right into parking area adjacent to power boxes. Park and walk to cemetery at top of steep hill.
Wild Rose Inn (Genoa)
CARSON VALLEY For more information on sites and events in the Carson Valley area visit the Carson Valley Visitors Authority in Gardnerville 1477 Hwy 395 (Visitor Center located in Douglas County Museum building) y 800.727.7677 www.visitcarsonvalley.org
Genoa Cemetery Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada in the Carson Valley, the Genoa Cemetery was established in the 1860s to provide an alternative to the Chinese Cemetery that was inconveniently located among the residences of the townspeople. The first to be buried in the Genoa Cemetery was a male schoolteacher whose headstone was marked by a marble dresser top. Th e cemetery is the final resting place of many early settlers and those who followed. One of the most visited graves is that of John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson, the “Mailman of the Sierra”, who delivered mail from Genoa to Placerville between 1856 and 1876, traversing the mountains on homemade skis. y From Genoa, drive north on Foothill Road. Look for Genoa Cemetery sign on left side of road. Snowshoe Thompson’s gravesite is located in SW corner by caretaker’s shed.
Located behind the Wild Rose Inn, a Victorian bed and breakfast, is the Knott Family graveyard established in 1859. The grave of 26-year-old Elzy Knott, is located there. His father, Thomas, refused to bury his son in the local Mormon graveyard because Elzy was killed over a bridle by a Mormon youth. y 2332 Main Street, Genoa y More information 775.782.5697 www.wildrose-inn.com
Mottsville Cemetery The settlement of Mottsville was named for Hiram Mott, an early Carson Valley rancher. The Mott family was prominent in early Nevada history. Hiram Mott’s daughterin-law, Eliza, was one of the first non-Indian women to settle in the state. The Mottsville Cemetery was established in 1857 and was among the state’s first cemeteries. y From Genoa drive six miles south on HWY 206 (Foothill Road). Turn left on Mottsville Road, left on Old Foothill Road, drive 0.3 mile, cemetery on left.
Garden Cemetery (Gardnerville) Established in the late 1800s, Garden Cemetery holds generations of prominent Carson Valley families. All are part of the history of this community, and their contributions to the valley stand today. Carson Valley men and women proudly served their nation in many conflicts, both in the United States and the world-at-large: Veterans of the American Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War rest here. y y
South on HWY 395 into Gardnerville, right on Cemetery Street, follow road to cemetery. More information 775.782.2555 or 775.782.2010
Franktown Creek Cemetery
WASHOE VALLEY Bowers Mansion Tombstone The Bowers Mansion was built in 1863 by Lemuel “Sandy” Bowers and his wife, Eilley, and is the finest example of the homes built in Nevada by the new millionaires of the Comstock mining boom. The mansion, designed by J. Neeley Johnson, a builder and ex-governor of California, c ombined Georgian and Italianate architectural styles. It was modeled after a design conceived by Eilley based on her recollection of elegant buildings in her native Scotland. The Bowers employed stonecutters from Scotland for the construction of their new home, which eventually cost $400,000 to build, an exorbitant sum in the 1860s. Eilley and Sandy toured Europe from 1861 to 1863, purchasing furniture, statuary, paintings and other adornments for their home. The grave site sits in back of the mansion at the top of a rise. y Turn right from 395 South to Bowers Mansion onto Old U.S. 395. Drive 1.7 miles, turn right into parking lot. Mansion located at south end of park. Follow the “Bowers Grave Trail” located at the rear of the mansion to grave site at the top of the hill. y For tours and more information 775.849.0201 or 775.849.0644
Franktown was established in 1855 in the Washoe Valley by Orson Hyde, probate judge of Carson County, Utah Territory. He built a sawmill that became an important enterprise in furnishing timber to the Comstock mines. The Dall quartz/ gold mill employed hundreds of workmen, and fertile farms surrounded the town. With the completion of the railroad from Carson City to Virginia City in 1869, the milling business rapidly lost its importance and the once prosperous town declined. y One mile south of Bowers Mansion on Old U.S 395, turn right onto Franktown Road, right onto Will Sauer Road (private road); cross bridge at Franktown Creek. Cemetery parking on right.
Sauer Family Cemetery (also known as Washoe City Cemetery) Andrew Sauer was born January 4, 1829, in Dielheim, Germany. Sauer, a butcher by trade, and his bride, Katherine Becker, came to Washoe Valley in 1859 from California. They raised cattle, carrots and potatoes for the mining towns. The Sauer ranch was a friendly stopping place for travelers, and due to Sauer’s vast accumulation of knowledge, was also a gathering center for intellectuals of the region. The Sauers had 11 children. y From Reno, drive south on Hwy 395 and park at Washoe Flats Steakhouse located at 555 Highway 395 N., Washoe City. Be very careful to avoid traffic on the highway.
y 2 Stateline Road, Crystal Bay, Nevada From Reno, take Interstate 80 west 25 miles to U.S. Highway 267 exit; follow U.S. 267 south 10 miles to Kings Beach; turn left at the light on State Route 28; go two miles to Crystal Bay; resort is on the right at the Nevada state line.
LAKE TAHOE Thunderbird Lodge The Thunderbird Lodge is one of the last residential estates on the Nevada shores of Lake Tahoe from the period in which prominent San Francisco society built homes in the region. It is a must-see site for anyone interested in history and ghosts. The Lodge was built in 1938 by George Whittell, a wealthy socialite and playboy, whose life was defined by outrageous behavior in his youth and his eccentricities in his later years. Reported to have several ghosts wandering the property, most haunting activity occurs in the boathouse and the pool house. Whittell commissioned the 55-foot Thunderbird yacht in 1940 and this grand vessel would not fit in the original boathouse. Whittell decided to convert the boathouse to an indoor pool and build a bigger boathouse elsewhere on the property. While working in the pool house, accessible through the 600-foot underground tunnel, a laborer fell from a ladder and died. Superstitious by nature, Whittell ordered everything left as it was at the time of the accident and had the room sealed. y y
Tours by reservation only More information 775-832-8750 or 1.800.GO.TAHOE www.thunderbirdlodge.org
Resort is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Ghost tour in the summer only on Fridays and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. The tour lasts 40 minutes. y Admission $8 adults, $5 children (ages 6-15) y More information 800.CAL.NEVA or 775.832.4000 www.calnevaresort.com y
Image courtesy of Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society
Cal Neva Resort Frank Sinatra once owned the Cal Neva Resort and lavishly entertained his swinging friends, including Marilyn Monroe, certain members of the Kennedy family, and the mobster Sam Giancana. Marilyn Monroe’s spirit has spooked guests inside the bungalow where she reportedly attempted suicide; others have spotted her spirit in the swimming pool, and in the halls of the new hotel. The ghost of Sammy Davis, Jr. is said to beg visitors for a little peace and quiet. And some believe that phantom visitors wander the tunnel that runs beneath the hotel to the closet of Marilyn’s cabin.
Cal Neva Lodge, circa 1950 Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada-Reno Library
Morrill Hall at University of Nevada, Reno Campus
RENO For more information on sites and events in the Reno-Tahoe area please visit Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority 4001 S. Virginia Street, Suite G Reno, NV 89502 800.FOR.RENO 775.827.7600 www.visitrenotahoe.com
Hillside Cemetery Reno’s earliest cemetery was founded April 27, 1875 by Wiltshire Sanders who granted a patent to use 40 acres for the Hillside Cemetery. Today, the cemetery is landscaped with scattered and skewed headstones that signify the 1,434 people once buried there.While prominent figures in Reno’s history are buried there, a portion of the cemetery was used as a Potters Field, for indigents, and those families that could not afford a plot. The graveyard, perched on a hill overlooking downtown Reno, is a monument to the early pioneers and original settlers. Historically and culturally significant, the oldest cemetery in Reno contains the names of those who helped shape and develop the city; Frank Orr,George Peckham and Edmund Plumb among them. Located west of the University of Nevada, Reno campus between University Terrace and Nevada Street. From I-80 turn north on Virginia Street, left on 9th street, continuing onto University Terrace to Nevada Street. y
Mountain View Cemetery This cemetery contains the earthly remains of some of Nevada’s greatest figures from the past. Pay your respects to Senator Pat McCarran, Mayor Ed Roberts and Velma Johnston “Wild Horse Annie,” an animal-rights activist who exposed the cruel methods used by ranchers, hunters and “mustangers” to remove wild horses from public lands. Her campaign resulted in Congress passing Public Law 86-234, which banned air and land vehicles from hunting and capturing wild horses on state land. This became known as the Wild Horse Annie Act. y 435 Stoker Avenue
(accessible from Stoker Avenue via west Fourth Street) y More information 775.329.9231
The first building of the University of Nevada, Reno campus, Morrill Hall is a rare example of the Second Empire style. When the hall was constructed in 1885, Nevada was little more than a collection of rough mining camps and railroad towns. The new university hall symbolized the determination of the people of Nevada to provide educational opportunities for themselves and their children. A woman dressed in 1920s attire haunts Morrill Hall, and certain paranormal events reportedly plague the building. y University of Nevada, Reno, at the intersection of Ninth and North Virginia Street y More information www.unr.edu Courtesy of University Archives, University of Nevada-Reno
Enjoy these special sites in Northern Nevada, and remember, while visiting cemteries, no gravestone rubbings are allowed and acts of theft and vandalism are felonies in the state of Nevada. For more information visit www.ghosttrailnv.com
Ghosts in Northern Nevada aren’t of the ghoulish campfire variety. Here, they tell stories of the past … of the colorful characters of the C...