History, Ghosts and Good People

History, Ghosts, and Good People

By Trish Althaus, October 30, 2022

My husband calls me a skeptic because when I hear a suspicious bump in the night I don’t attribute it to something otherworldly. Yes, I am practical and look for logical explanations to situations, but does that make me a skeptic? Maybe.

This past weekend we spent in Gold Hill, Nevada, a tiny town outside the small town of Virginia City. Both are known for their mining history, and both are known for their paranormal activity. These two towns are part of the Comstock Mining District, an area known for the first major silver strike in the country. Gold was first discovered in the area in June of 1859, but soon miners realized that the area held huge amounts of very pure silver. Today a drive up Hwy 342 will provide travelers with views of many abandoned hard rock mines: their buildings, equipment and mine shafts. The hilly landscape is a bit otherworldly itself, due to the mounds created from the tailings of hundreds of mines. Tailings are the piles of processed ore, left after the gold and silver have been removed. They now are part of the landscape, creating the unique hills of the Comstock.

As a fifth grade teacher, one who teaches United States History, I enjoy learning the history of the areas I visit. But my husband, Harvey, is the real history buff in the family. He often shares with me the history of places we visit with encyclopedic accuracy. Harv is also known to many in the paranormal field as a “sensitive.” This means he feels and senses things much more often and more accurately than most. As a “skeptic,” Harv would say that I am not one to exaggerate about anything paranormal, so when I say he has a gift, you can believe me. All this to say, this past weekend we not only went to Gold Hill to enjoy the rich history, but also to participate in a paranormal event, “Haunted Hills and Mills,” sponsored by the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters.

Jeadene and Jill of the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters (NNGH) along with their crew, have put on this special event for the past 4 years. What I love about this event is that it is actually a fundraiser for the Comstock Foundation, an organization whose goal is to … Protect, Preserve, Restore, Educate and Celebrate the historic structures, artifacts, landscapes and profound culture of the Comstock Historic District and our National Landmark for all to appreciate.”

The weekend included ghost hunting in multiple locations, psychic readings, dinner, snacks, crafts, silent auctions, and raffles. Jeadene and Jill are wonderful hosts and make sure that all involved are having a magical time. On Friday night we were treated to a taco bar and the opportunity to explore many of the rooms in the Gold Hill Hotel, including the room in which Harvey and I were staying. Many people have reported paranormal activity in these rooms. After a delicious meal and a short talk about the history of the area, participants were sent out to explore different areas of the hotel. Each room was equipped with devices that help recognize if a spirit was reaching out to communicate. (Ghost hunting supplies) On Saturday, participants had the opportunity to explore the Donovan Mill and the Cabin in the Sky, both known in the paranormal world as places to visit. 

 

As people moved in one room and out the other, it was obvious they were all having a great time. Some told stories of what they heard or felt. What impressed me the most about this weekend was not the unknown voices recorded, or the unexplained chill going down one’s spine, not even the amazing depth of history the area has to offer, but instead what was most impressive was the hard work and dedication of Jeadene, Jill, and all the volunteers from the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters and the Comstock Foundation. The people in these organizations work tirelessly to raise money to preserve the rich history of the area and to share that with others.

This event, and others like it, hosted by NNGH are not meant to be scary, but a true exploration of the area’s history and its people, living and dead. They want the experiences they provide to be interesting and educational, and they approach each event with love and appreciation for the past.

Through these types of events and the historical places that have been preserved, we can all come to know the “spirit” of the people who worked hard and often gave their lives to the Comstock. 

Other Attractions in The Comstock Area

Gold Hill and Virginia City are rich with history and it is easy to find ways to fill up one’s itinerary for a few days.

Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters

The Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters have regularly scheduled ghost hunts at both the Donovan Mill and the Gold Hill Hotel. You will want to book your ghost tour in advance at the NNGH website.

V and T Railway

The V and T Railway offers a number of different train tours. Last year Harv and I participated in the Carson Canyon Railbike Tour. We enjoyed peddling ourselves into the Carson Canyon where we stopped for a beautiful view and a bit of history. 

This past weekend we enjoyed the short train trip from Virginia City to Gold Hill. We particularly enjoyed the historical narration. The railway also offers a number of holiday tours.

Chollar Mine Tour

The Chollar Mine Tour was another enjoyable aspect of this weekend getaway. On the tour of this mine we not only learned about the history of the mine and surrounding area, but we walked about 400 feet into the mine. I enjoyed when they lit a candle to show the light by which the miners worked, and then they blew it out. You don’t experience that kind of dark often. 

The Mackay Mansion

The Mackay Mansion was once home to the Uber wealthy Mackay family. Mrs. Mackay spent much of her time traveling the world and bringing home unique objects with which to decorate her home. Tours are offered that emphasize the history of the family and area, along with a bit of the paranormal.

There are many other tours, museums, shops and restaurants to visit in the small mountain area known as the Comstock.

Trish Althaus
Travel Columnist | + posts

 

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Eddie Grassi
Eddie Grassi
1 year ago

Excellent Read Trish. The history of Gold Hill comes alive with you as your tour guide!

Patricia Althaus
Patricia Althaus
1 year ago
Reply to  Eddie Grassi

It is an interesting place and worth a visit.

Carolyn Grassi
Carolyn Grassi
1 year ago

Wow! what a wonderful, exciting and informative article by Trish Althaus. Many thanks. Perhaps this could be published in a local newspaper or magazine in the area near Northern Nevada. Wish I had known about it ages ago to go with husband Joe and our sons, Eddie and Peter, when they were kids. Fantastic travel writing! Many thanks!

Patricia Althaus
Patricia Althaus
1 year ago
Reply to  Carolyn Grassi

Thanks, it is an interesting place for sure.

Susan Saw
Susan Saw
1 year ago

I want to go into a mine. That sounds like fun. I will skip the chills down the spine but enjoy the company and camaraderie. How fun!

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