Virginia City Travel Guide

Browse 4 travel reviews, 1 travel blogs and 159 travel photos from real travelers to Virginia City.

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Virginia City Overview

Virginia City is a small, historic, town of about 200 that is on the rebound (up 52% since 2000) located along Montana Highway 287 in Madison County in Southwest Montana. The entire town, and surrounding area, has been designated a National Historic Landmark District. Virginia City got its start in May 1863 when gold was discovered in Alder Creek. By June 1863 a town was started and was named Verina, after Varina Howell Davis, the first (and only) First Lady of the Confederacy. However, the town’s registration had to go through a Connecticut judge who objected to the name and recorded it as Virginia City. Virginia City was not far from Bannack, the first territorial capital of Montana, and their histories are interlinked. Because of the remoteness of the area there was a lack of law enforcement and crime was rampant in the mining boomtown. Robbers, called “Road Agents”, were responsible for about 100 murders in 1863, and caused the formation of the notorious “Montana Vigilantes”. The vigilantes hung about 15 road agents including Bannack Sheriff Henry Plummer who was allegedly working both sides of the law. 1864 saw the first newspaper and in 1866 the first school in Montana started in Virginia City. In 1865 the Territorial Capital was moved from Bannack to Virginia City. The town rapidly declined and was threatened to become a ghost town until 1940 when Charles and Sue Bovey started buying up the town to start a commercial “Ghost Town” attraction for the tourists. Today the town is mostly owned by the state. Of the 300 or so buildings in Virginia City over half were built before 1900. Many have been restored to their original appearance. Virginia City is the county seat of Madison County. Madison County was established in 1865 when Montana was still a territory. The Madison County Courthouse was completed in 1875 and is part of the Virginia City Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Virginia City is a National Historic Landmark District and almost every building in town is of historical and/or architectural interest. There are two districts in Virginia City listed in the National Register of Historic Places.