Virginia City National Historic District

Virginia City MT 59729

Montana Capitals/Virginia City National Historic District
Montana Historical Society
Written By Montana Historical Society

We share Montana's story through our resources: art, books, artifacts, photos, and even buildings we've helped preserve.

There's gold in that there gulch!

The spectacular gold deposit discovered in Alder Gulch on May 26, 1863, led to the rapid growth of this colorful and legendary gold camp town. Thousands of fortune‑seekers rushed to the area, and by 1864 the Virginia City area boasted 30,000 residents. Rough characters attracted by the gold rush gave Virginia City an unsavory reputation, but these were tempered by pioneers and their families who settled here and helped to shape the new frontier.

After the creation of the Territory of Montana, Virginia City became the territorial capital, 1865‑1875, and the Madison County seat. As the gold played out, Virginia City's population dwindled. False-fronted commercial structures, simple log cabins, and frame Victorian residences remained as testimony to the transitory gold rush.

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Historic Preservation

Among the first to recognize the historical and architectural significance of Virginia City were Charlie and Sue Bovey of Great Falls. They began to purchase and stabilize some of the fragile buildings in the early 1940s. The Boveys' personal efforts and those of their son, Ford, resulted in the town's designation as a National Historic Landmark and its remarkable preservation as one of the most intact gold rush era towns in the West. In the following video you'll take a silent tour through the gold-mining ghost town of Virginia City, and its sister Nevada City!

Cover photo credit: SchmuckyTheCat via wikimedia

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