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I WAS prepared to find great changes on the
route from Carson to Virginia City. At Empire City-which was nothing but a sagedesert inhabited by Dutch Nick on the occasion of my early explorations-I was quite bewildered with the busy scenes of life and industry. Quartzmills and saw-mills had completely usurped the valley along the head of the Carson River; and now the hammering of stamps, the hissing of steam, the whirling clouds of smoke from tall chimneys, and the confused clamor of voices from a busy multitude, reminded one of a manufacturing city. Here, indeed, was progress of a substantial kind.
Further beyond, at Silver City, there were
similar evidences of prosperity. From the descent into the cañon through the Devil's Gate, and up the grade to Gold Hill, it is almost a continuous line of quartz-mills, tunnels, dumps, sluices, water-wheels, frame shanties, and grogshops.
Gold Hill itself has swelled into the proportions of a city. It is now practically a continuation of Virginia. Here the evidences of busy enterprise are peculiarly striking. The whole hill is riddled and honey-combed with shafts and tunnels. Engine-houses for hoisting are perched on points apparently inaccessible; quartz-mills of various capacities line the sides of the cañon; the main street is well flanked by brick stores,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by Harper and Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
VOL. XXXI.-No. 181.-A
hotels, express-offices, saloons, restaurants, groggeries, and all those attractive places of resort which go to make up a flourishing mining town. Even a newspaper is printed here, which I know to be a spirited and popular institution, having been viciously assailed by the same. A runaway team of horses, charging full tilt down the street, greeted our arrival in a lively and characteristic manner, and came very near capsizing our stage. One man was run over some distance below, and partially crushed; but as somebody was killed nearly every day, such a meagre result afforded no general satisfaction.
Descending the slope of the ridge that divides Gold Hill from Virginia City a strange scene attracts the eye. He who gazes upon it for the first time is apt to doubt if it be real. Perhaps there is not another spot upon the face of the globe that presents a scene so weird and desolate in its natural aspect, yet so replete with busy life, so animate with human interest. It is as if a wondrous battle raged, in which the combatants were man and earth. Myriads of swarthy, bearded, dust-covered men are piercing into the grim old mountains, ripping them open, thrusting murderous holes through their naked bodies; piling up engines to cut out their vital arteries; stamping and crushing up with infernal machines their disemboweled fragments, and holding fiendish revels amidst the chaos of destruction; while the mighty earth, blasted, barren, and scarred by the tempests of ages, fiercely affronts the foe-smiting him with disease and death; scoffing at his puny assaults
with a grim scorn; ever grand in his desolation, ever dominant in the infinity of his endurance. "Come!" he seems to mutter, "dig, delve, pierce, and bore, with your picks, your shovels, and your infernal machines; wring out of my veins a few globules of the precious blood; hoard it, spend it, gamble for it, bring perdition to your souls with it-do what you will, puny insects! Sooner or later the death-blow smites you, and Earth swallows you! From earth you came-to earth you go again!"
The city lies on a rugged slope, and is singularly diversified in its uprisings and downfallings. It is difficult to determine, by any system of observation or measurement, upon what principle it was laid out. My impression is that it was never laid out at all, but followed the dips, spurs, and angles of the immortal Comstock. Some of the streets run straight enough; others seem to dodge about at acute angles in search of an open space, as miners explore the subterranean regions in search of a lead. The crossstreets must have been forgotten in the original plan-if ever there was a plan about this eccentric city. Sometimes they happen accidentally at the most unexpected points; and sometimes they don't happen at all where you are sure to require them. A man in a hurry to get from the upper slope of the town to any opposite point below must try it under-ground or over the roofs of the houses, or take the customary circuit of half a mile. Every body seems to have built wherever he could secure a lot. The two main streets, it must be admitted, are so far
regular as to follow pretty nearly the direction | Smoking hot, reeking with sweat, dripping with of the Comstock lead. On the lower slope, or liquefied dust, they pull, jerk, groan, fall back, plateau, the town, as viewed from any neighbor- and dash forward, tumble down, kick, plunge, ing eminence, presents much the appearance of and bite; then buckle to it again, under the a vast number of shingle-roofs shaken down at galling lash; and so live and so struggle these random, like a jumbled pack of cards. All poor beasts, for their pittance of barley and hay, the streets are narrow, except where there are till they drop down dead. How they would welbut few houses, and there they are wide enough come death if they had souls! Yet men have at present. The business part of the town has souls, and work hard too for their miserable pitbeen built up with astonishing rapidity. In the tance of food. How many of the countless millspring of 1860 there was nothing of it save a few ions of the earth yearn for death or welcome its frame shanties and canvas tents, and one or two coming? rough stone cabins. It now presents some of the distinguishing features of a metropolitan city. Large and substantial brick houses, three or four stories high, with ornamental fronts, have filled up most of the gaps, and many more are still in progress of erection. The oddity of the plan, and variety of its architecture-combining most of the styles known to the ancients, and some but little known to the moderns-give this famous city a grotesque, if not picturesque, appearance, which is rather increased upon a close inspection.
Even the teamsters that drive these struggling labor-worn brutes seem so fond of life that they scorn eternity. Brawny, bearded fellows they are; their faces so ingrained with the dust and grit of earth, and tanned to such an uncertain hue by the scorching suns and dry winds of the road, that for the matter of identity they might as well be Hindoos or Belooches. With what malignant zeal they crack their leatherthonged whips, and with what ferocious vigor they rend the air with their imprecations! O Plutus! such swearing-a sliding scale of oaths to which swearing in all other parts of the world is as the murmuring of a gentle brook to the volume and rush and thunder of a cataract. The fertility of resource displayed by these reckless men; their ready command of metaphor; their marvelous genius for strange, startling, and graphic combination of slang and profanity; their grotesque originality of inflexion and climax; their infatuated credulity in the understanding of dumb animals; would in the pursuit of any nobler art elevate them to a niche in the Surely if murder be deemed
Immense freight-wagons, with ponderous wheels and axles, heavily laboring under prodigious loads of ore for the milis, or groaning with piles of merchandise in boxes, bales, bags, and crates, block the narrow streets. Powerful teams of horses, mules, or oxen, numbering from eight to sixteen animals to each wagon, make frantic efforts to drag these land schooners over the ruts, and up the sudden rises, or through the sinks of this rut-smitten, ever-rising, eversinking city. A pitiable sight it is to see them! | temple of fame.
"Frisco ;" and the inevitable Wells, Fargo, and Co. are distributing letters, packages, and papers to the hungry multitude, amidst tempting piles of silver bricks and wonderful complications of scales, letter-boxes, clerks, accountbooks, and twenty-dollar pieces. All is life, ex
A strange city truly, abounding in strange exhibitions and startling combinations of the human passions. Where upon earth is there such another place?
One of the most characteristic features of Virginia is the inordinate passion of the inhabitants for advertising. Not only are the columns of the newspapers filled with every possible species of advertisement, but the streets and hill-sides are pasted all over with flaming bills. Says the proprietor of a small shanty, in letters that send a thrill of astonishment through your brain:
one of the Fine Arts in Virginia City, swearing ought not to be held in such common repute. Entering the main street you pass on the upper side huge piles of earth and ore, hoisted out of the shafts or run out of the tunnels, and cast over the "dumps." The hill-sides, for a distance of more than a mile, are perfectly honey-citement, avarice, lust, deviltry, and enterprise. combed. Steam-engines are puffing off their steam; smoke-stacks are blackening the air with their thick volumes of smoke; quartz-batteries are battering; hammers are hammering; subterranean blasts are bursting up the earth; picks and crow-bars are picking and crashing into the precious rocks; shanties are springing up, and carpenters are sawing and ripping and nailing; store-keepers are rolling their merchandise in and out along the way-side; fruit vendors are peddling their fruits; wagoners are tumbling out and piling in their freights of dry goods and ore; saloons are glittering with their gaudy bars and fancy glasses, and many-colored liquors, and thirsty men are swilling the burning poison; auctioneers, surrounded by eager and gaping crowds of speculators, are shouting off the stocks of delinquent stock-holders; organ-grinders are grinding their organs and torturing consumptive monkeys; hurdy-gurdy girls are singing bacchanalian songs in bacchanalian dens; Jew clothiers are selling off prodigious assortments of worthless garments at ruinous prices; billstickers are sticking up bills of auctions, theatres, and new saloons; news-boys are crying the city papers with the latest telegraphic news; stages are dashing off with passengers for "Reese;" and stages are dashing in with passengers from
"LOOK HERE! For fifty cents YOU CAN GET A GOOD SQUARE MEAL at the HOWLING WILDERNESS SAA square meal is not, as may be supposed, a meal placed upon the table in the form of a solid cubic block, but a substantial repast of pork and beans, onions, cabbage, and other articles of sustenance that will serve to fill up the corners of a miner's stomach.
marvelous fertility of invention in this style of The Jew clothing-stores present the most advertising. Bills are posted all over the doorways, in the windows, on the pavements, and on the various articles of clothing hung up for sale. He who runs may read:
"Now OR NEVER! Cheapest coats in the world!! PANTS GIVEN AWAY!!! WALK IN, GENTS."
And so on without limit. New clothes and clothes doubtful are offered for sale at these prolific establishments, which are always selling off at cost or suicidal prices, yet never seem to be reduced in stock. I verily believe I saw hanging at the door of one of these shops the identical pair of stockings stolen from me several years ago at Strawberry.
public taste he hopes to make his house in the future, as it has been in the past, a real HoME for the Boys!" Nice homes these, and a nice family of boys that will come out of them! Where will they live when they grow to be men? A good idea it was to build a stone penitentiary.
"Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes!"" Drinking establishments being rather numer"AUOTION SALES EVERY DAY!" ous, the competition in this line of business gives This is another form of advertisement for a rise to a very persuasive and attractive style of very prolific branch of trade. Day and night advertising. The bills are usually printed in auctions are all the rage in Virginia as in San florid and elaborately gilt letters, and frequent- Francisco. Every thing that can't go any other ly abound in pictures of an imaginative charac- way, and many things that can, go by auction. "Cosy Home," "Miner's Retreat," "So- Stocks, horses, mules, boots, groceries, tinware, cial Hall,' "Empire," "Indication," "Fancy-drugs and medicines, and rubbish of all kinds Free," "Snug," "Shades," etc., are a few of the seductive names given to these places of popular resort; and the announcements are generally followed by a list of "choice liquors" and the gorgeous attractions of the billiard department, together with a hint that Dick, Jack, Dan, or Jerry "is always on hand, and while grateful for past favors will spare no pains to merit a continuance of the same. By catering to the
are put in flaming bills and auctioned off to the highest bidder for cash. "An'af! an'af! an'af! shall I have it ?" is a part of the language popularly spoken on the principal streets.
A cigar store not much bigger than a drygoods box must have its mammoth posters out over the town and hill-sides, displaying to the public eye the prodigious assortments of Regalias, Principes, Cheroots, etc., and choice brands