Living in Virginia City doesn’t guarantee ghost experiences |

Living in Virginia City doesn’t guarantee ghost experiences

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

When people I meet or talk to discover I live in Virginia City, I am invariably asked about ghosts.

There’s not much I can tell them, as members of the Comstock’s spirit world tend to avoid me.

Not that I haven’t given them the chance to show themselves. I lived in the Silver Queen Hotel for about four months. It’s supposed to be haunted, but I never saw or heard anything. I lived across from the cemetery and never saw anything. I frequent the Washoe Club, also supposed to be haunted, but never saw the cowboy that supposedly drinks whisky at the end of the bar and then disappears, and never saw an orb on the spiral staircase.

I am a regular visitor to Piper’s Opera House and again, I’ve never heard or seen anything otherworldly. I have been in the Fourth Ward School, St. Mary’s Art Center, the Gold Hill Hotel and for awhile rented a little 1860s-era miner’s shack, and never saw a ghost.

Maybe they sense my natural reporter’s skepticism, but the only ghosts and goblins I ever see are the ones in Virginia City’s Halloween Parade and who trick-or-treat on C Street the last day of October.

Ti’a Watkins of Reno said a ghost is frequenting the home where she lives.

Watkins said her roommate has a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old, and recently the 9-year-old saw a little girl with a pink shirt, black hair and carrying a Teddy bear appear in the child’s room.

“I was downstairs on the couch and the 9-year-old went upstairs to play,” she said. “Then she came down and said she saw a little girl. Then we started hearing noises.”

Many others in Virginia City say they have regularly seen the ghosts, and now people in Reno are seeing them, but I still have never seen a ghost.

Maybe I should drink more.


Lt. John Toll will be coming home soon.

Toll, 24, the son of David Toll of Gold Hill and Andria Daley of Virginia City, has completed his first tour of duty in Iraq. He served with the 82nd Airborne’s 1st Battalion 504, leading a platoon of 27 paratroopers, a squad of scouts and a few snipers. His was the first unit that was deployed for the surge.

His platoon was assigned to New Baghdad, between the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City and a neighborhood of Sunni residents. Mortars hit the base regularly, and troops could be shot by members of either Muslim sect.

Though his service is up in 2009, he believes he will be stop-lossed, or prevented from leaving the military by the Pentagon’s “stop-loss” program.

The last time he was home his family threw a huge party for him. Now they will be able to throw another.


A play that was a hit at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City last summer and this winter will head to another historic mining town.

“Dead End at Piper’s” will become “Dead End at Eureka” and move to the Eureka Opera House for a performance at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The play is an interactive murder mystery that encourages the audience members to ask questions and help solve the crime.

It was a great play when I saw it and, no, I didn’t figure out who the murderer was.


The Friday Night Follies are back at the Gold Hill Hotel with director Bryan Ballinger, known locally as Cowboy Bryan.

Ballinger led a group of talented entertainers last week as they kicked off the Spring Follies, and cowboy was definitely the theme.

About a dozen people were in town to hear the Comstock Cowboys at the Bucket of Blood, and dance in the March Ball at Piper’s, and they were dressed up in Western period attire.

They heard former Comstock Cowboy Glenn Buschine perform, joined by Virginia City local Karl Gambrel, and more.

Cameron Crain of the Nevada Shakespeare Festival did a hilarious rendition of “Hillbilly Romeo & Juliet,” which is what he said Andy Griffith used to do before “Mayberry” came along.

He used to go from rural town to rural town in the South and perform Shakespeare in language that the locals could understand, Crain said, then launched into a redneck version of the romantic classic.

Robin and Rich McGregor did “Wine Reviews,” a funny spoof of a couple of winos reviewing wine they found in the trash can, as well as the Abbott and Costello classic, “Who’s on First.”

The entertainment is coupled with a delicious four-course meal for $45 per person, and the chocolate cheesecake with caramel alone was worth the price, at least for me.


Nine-year old Ashlee Smith, who has been collecting toys for the children of Fernley to replace those lost in the flood, will be distributing the toys and clothes at Cottonwood Elementary from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 22.

Her mom, Ericka, said they will be checking IDs of the adults to confirm their address, and ask that the affected families only bring their children to the event because Ashlee wants to make sure that every child receives toys.

The toy drive was made possible by numerous businesses and residents of Northern Nevada and Northern California.

Even after the setback of all the toys being stolen, she collected enough for everyone. The Northern Nevada and Northern California communities are amazing and have really rallied around Ashlee to make her dream come true.

Ashlee will be on site at Cottonwood Elementary, she wants to meet each and every child that attends the distribution.

Ashlee wants to say thank you to each and every person and family that donated to her toy drive. Thank you to all of the children that brought in toys from their own closets, and all of the major business sponsors that helped out in many ways.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 881-7351.