Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

More than the Glory: Preserving the Gold Rush and Its Outcome at Virginia City

By Ellen Baumler 

Download and read the article in PDF format.


Should the state of Montana be charged with the many responsibilities of preserving Virginia and Nevada cities?

Should buildings be restored to the original time periods? Why or Why not?


1)    According to the author, what has prevented the extinction of a mining camp? What was Virginia City's key to survival?

2)    What was Virginia City's second chance at survival after dredging stopped in the 1930s?

3)    What are the three "phases" of settlement to which the author refers? What designates each as a phase?

4)    What is the "Fourteen-mile City?"

5)    Why did saloonkeepers place carpet on their counters and bars?

6)    What is the architectural significance of a false front?   What significance do false fronts play in the western mining communities?

7)    Describe the reason for the creation of and purpose of the vigilantes.

8)    What do historians note as the "urbanization of the mining camp?"

9)    What two Virginia City structures are among Montana's most significant landmarks for their association with early territorial government?

10)    Why would storekeepers dress-up their storefronts?   What types of architectural elements would they add?

11)    Why was glass such a valuable commodity in remote mining towns like Virginia City?

12)    What technological milestone did Virginia City pass in 1866? What did it mean to the community?

13)    How did the rise in quartz mining reflect what was happening to the community of Virginia City?

14)    What does the appearance of architect-designed buildings in Virginia City say about the community?

15)    How were the Chinese miners treated in Virginia City?

16)    When did gold dredging arrive in Virginia City?   What effects did it have on the community?

17)    What combination of circumstances contributed to the unusual preservation of Virginia City's first generation buildings?

18)    Who is now responsible for the preservation of the buildings and history of Virginia and Nevada cities?

19)    What are some of the specific problems facing the residents and the managers of Virginia and Nevada cities?


 -    Research the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, available at the State Historic Preservation Office. Generate a list of the four types of treatment recommended and some of their characteristics. Go for a walk through a historic district in your town or one nearby.  Identify what types of treatments have been applied to historic properties.

-    Research a historic property in your town and prepare a nomination of it to the National Register of Historic Places. For information call the Montana State Historic Preservation Office at (406) 444-7715.

-    Using the author's description, try constructing a pole roof in miniature.

-    Create a development plan for the future of Virginia and Nevada cities.   Include all aspects of preservation, interpretation, business, marketing, etc…





Adaptive reuse

Built environment

Rubble stone

Vernacular architecture