Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Haunted Old West Ghost Town

On this date in 1863, the town of Virginia City, Montana was officially registered, although the townspeople originally opted for the name, Varina - a name that did not sit well with Union officials during the American Civil War. Varina happened to be the first name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's wife, Varina Howell Davis, and its selection was no accident. At the time, the overwhelming population of "Varina" happened to be Confederate sympathizers, despite being in the heart of the Idaho Territory, which was in the Union. Rather than accept the townspeople's choice of a name, Union officials recorded the registration as Virginia City. The name snub by the officials was one thing, but there are some that wonder if those same officials were not responsible for a terror that was yet to come.

At the time, Virginia City was a booming gold-rush town with no law protection. Crime was rampant in the town until the arrival of a force of men known as the Vigilance Commission. These vigilantes took matters into their own hands, serving as judge, jury, and executioner and their methods were brutal. According to some, some of their "criminals" did nothing wrong outside being sympathetic to the Confederate movement. It is also said that much of the gold that was found in the town played a major role in funding the Union Army during the Civil War.

Virginia City, Montana still hosts a population around 100 today, although the structures and ambience are really frozen in the time of its glory days. Aside from being a popular tourist stop as a living "ghost town," it has also gained a reputation of another sorts. Today, the community is considered the most haunted town in the state of Montana - probably due, in no small measure, to its violent past. A popular tourist stop in town is with the Virginia City Ghost Walks, who pass along the paranormal legends that hide in the shadows.

Take a walk through Virginia City, Montana.

-Casey H.

1 comment:

RogerandKaren said...

When we visited Virginia City, we rode the train between the 2 towns, walked through the re-created rustic area and the town shops, and had lunch at one of the restaurants at the smaller of the two towns. It was dusty, authentic and interesting. Across the street from the restaurant is an old nonworking train surrounded by weeds, which we explored only from the outside. We heard unusual thunking sounds inside that old train, and of all places in the area, that one had the most haunting vibes. We could feel it. No idea of its history...