Visitors to VC are both challenging and fun

One of the many cool aspects of living in Virginia City is that you get to talk to people from all over the world.

I love the tourists. I have chatted with an Australian from Brisbane who stopped into Kitty's Longbranch during a Musician's Jam; a Puerto Rican in town to work on the train; and a tour guide from Denmark who was sipping brandy in the Territorial Enterprise museum during a special tour.

I even met a Polish couple that got married at the Silver Queen. They requested a polka from David John and the Comstock Cowboys - and got one. It was fun, if a little surreal, to watch the couple dancing traditional Polish dances in an 1876 Virginia City saloon to a polka played by a cowboy band.

We get lots of American visitors, too, and from every state and territory. I am often amazed at how many Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirts I see. When I ask them if they're from Pittsburgh, they usually aren't, but they love the Steelers.

Of course, sometimes they are and we spend time discussing what's new in the old steel town.

There are some habits visitors to Virginia City have that I find a little vexing. Not that they go too slow (5 miles per hour in a 20 mph zone, because they're looking around or trying to find a place to park), or crowd the sidewalk, (I walk in the street during those times, like most locals).

They like to stand in the doorway of a store or a bar, without going in, but blocking the way for anyone else coming in or going out. Why not just go in? Don't block the doorway, it's not fair to other shoppers or the shopkeeper, who really wants you to come in.

At the Washoe Club, the oldest bar in town with the historic spiral staircase, many tourists stop in the doorway and peek in at the locals enjoying their drinks, almost afraid to come in.

I was told why once. According to a regular visitor from Reno, it's because when a tourist stands in the doorway, the locals peer at them with mean, squinting looks on their faces and the visitors don't feel welcome to come in.

Well the fact is, the Washoe is dimly lit, and when someone comes in, the bar patrons can't see their faces, so they're probably squinting to try to make out who's there. We're not really ferocious, though we might look that way sometimes.

Another explanation is they hate the tourists' habit of just standing in the doorway peering in.

They like to stand in the middle of the street and take photos. Taking photos is fine, but doing it in the middle of C Street is risky. It also causes those three-car traffic jams that frustrate locals and make them think it's California all over again.

I know it's hard to get a good shot from the boardwalk because of parked cars and the shadows that the overhead porches cause, but you solve that problem by coming in the early morning. There isn't much traffic and St. Mary's in the Mountains bathed in sunlight is an incredible sight. Virginia City is at its best visually just after dawn.

Finally, the worst offense, which is some don't look both ways before crossing the street. This is the one that really bugs me, because it's seriously dangerous. I know we don't drive too fast in VC, 20 mph being the town-wide speed limit, but even at slow speeds, a person stepping out from between parked cars into the street without looking can get hurt or even killed.

Virginia City has some blind corners, and if you are walking on the west side of B Street heading north and cross Taylor without looking, I won't see you if I'm driving down Taylor. I have had to slam on the brakes more than a few times to avoid tourists who aren't looking when they cross.

The main offenders are adults, and they're setting a bad example for their kids when they do that. Besides, do you really feel safe not looking before crossing the street in a town that has about 10 bars in four blocks? Think about it.


My good friends, Will and Sheree Rose, have taken their musical "Cathouse Afternoon" to Reno.

I played in the original "Cathouse Afternoon" in 2006, playing the part of "Edna" who wants to throw all the soiled doves out of Virginia City. I used a shrieking voice, taken from the actress that played Harriett Olsen on "Little House on the Prairie" and even gave myself headaches. I had a great time doing it, but don't have the time now. It is an extremely entertaining musical and had a great run.

"Cathouse Afternoon Follies" a shortened version of the original hit musical that performed at the Mandarin Garden Dinner Theater and Piper's Opera House in Virginia City in 2007, will be performed at 5:30 p.m. Sundays though Aug. 31 at the Supper Club Zulu, Mount Rose Street at Virginia Avenue in Reno.

Tickets for the musical, a bawdy look at 1870s Virginia City, centered around Esmeralda's Parlor House, are $25 and includes dinner, which is served during the show. The food is provided by The Barbecue House, Oakland style.

For reservations or more info, call Will and Sheree Rose at 775-847-7150, or go to, Or call 775-448-6460.

The show will be performed at the Gold Hill Hotel in October.

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


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