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The history of the second oldest capitol building west of the Mississippi is as colorful as Nevada itself. Completed in 1871, the cost of construction nearly doubled the amount originally bid by Peter Cavanaugh; with furnishings, the total rang in at over $100,000. The 1981 renovation cost nearly $6 million. The first floor features a mural, three feet high and 400 feet long, painted by A. V. Wiggins in 1917. Numerous images representing Nevada's industries are embodied in the work.
Visitors explore Nevada's history here through viewing a video on Nevada's admission to the Union, which is considered a major influence in the outcome of the Civil War; by reading the original state Constitution; or by touring the rotating exhibits. The archives also feature Nevada's first printing facility (1885-1886). Old newspapers, reflecting Nevada's colorful and sometimes notorious history, are also available. The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful, and there is no admission fee.
Built in 1936 by San Francisco millionaire George Whittell, Jr., the six-acre lakefront Thunderbird Lodge consists of a main lodge, three cottages, a card house, a boathouse, an elephant house, a lighthouse, three garages, and a gatehouse. A tour is the only way to see the expansive property. Although pricey for an hour, the experience is unforgettable. For instance, the entire garden, staged from mountain to lake, was a fountain filled by waterfall; a 600 foot granite tunnel serves as a direct path from the lodge to the boathouse—the home of Thunderbird, a brushed stainless steel and mahogany boat powered with dual 1100 horsepower aircraft engines. Today, Thunderbird still operates flawlessly for water tours and special events. Reservation is required to join the tour. Tours operate from Tuesdays to Fridays.
Spooner Summit is a hill that is part of the Lake Tahoe State Park on the Nevada side. Mainly used in winter by skiing enthusiasts, this summit provides one with panoramic views of the lake, and being an unmaintained part of the park, one can ski on untouched slopes. It is also popular as a sledding and snowboarding spot. In the summers, one can take the trail going up to the summit to just savor the beautiful views all around.
This beautiful sandstone mansion was the home of Sandy Bowers, one of the first people to strike it rich on the Comstock. When the mansion was built in the late 1800s, it was the most fabulous home in all of Nevada. There are fine antique furnishings, brocades, silver tea services and even silver door hinges and knobs. The mansion has guided tours during the summer months. One can stroll the grounds, have a picnic, or take a dip in the nearby Bowers pool.
This is absolutely the best skiing in the area if you want a challenging ski course. The view of Lake Tahoe is breathtaking at the top of The Great Flume or Golden Eagle Bowl runs. The resort offers cross-country skiing, childcare and a wonderful sports shop. If you are really ambitious, try snowshoeing. You can even bring your dog along for a small fee. Shuttle service is available from most major hotels in the area.
First discovered in 1859, this mine once produced both gold and silver ore. Today, it yields history rather than precious metals. Take a 30-minute walking tour through the actual mine shaft. As you descend 400 feet deep into the mine, you will marvel at the design of the mine's support structures and see the tools that were actually used by men that coaxed the ore out of the mine's veins. This guided tour offers many interesting facts of how Virginia City miners lived and died.
History buffs will enjoy this interesting old schoolhouse. It was built in the late 1880s so the Comstock students could get their education in a fine modern building. Walk through and you will see that much of the old furnishings and blackboards remain. The four-story building has been completely refurbished inside and out and serves as a meeting place, gallery and museum for the area. Admission is USD2 for adults, children under age 12 admitted free.