Comstock wild-horse museum honored |

Comstock wild-horse museum honored

by Susie Vasquez

The Comstock Wild Horse & Mining Museum in Virginia City will receive a tourism development award at the 20th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in December.

Lacey J. Dalton, founder of the Let ’em Run Foundation which sponsors the museum, said it’s a milestone for Nevada’s wild horses.

“I thought it would take my whole life to get the word out that wild horses can be a wonderful reason for people to come to Nevada,” the singer said. “They’ve always been thought of as pests and problems. This award will turn people’s heads around to the fact that horses can be a wonderful tourist attraction.”

The shaggy Shetland ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague Islands off the coast of Maryland and Virginia draw 450,000 tourists annually, while the bison in North Dakota and grizzly bears in Yellowstone get just 250,000 visitors a year, Dalton said.

“The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington gets 850,000 visitors a year,” she said. “It’s a working horse farm. They have a mustang drill team.”

A volunteer nonprofit organization, the Let ’em Run Foundation is dedicated to preserving and protecting Nevada’s wild horses. The museum, which opened in May, is in a historic V&T railroad car at 131 South C St.

It features a short history of the wild horses roaming the Virginia Range and is run by volunteers. Museum director Olivia Fiamengo said business has been brisk.

“I don’t have the exact figures, but we get hundreds of visitors,” she said. “Many tourists don’t know the wild horses even exist. Here they develop a new appreciation for the horses and the Comstock Historical District.

“People express gratitude by what we’re doing, and that’s good,” she said.

Because their range is located on private rather than public land, the horses aren’t protected by the federal government.

Let ’em Run hopes to develop a sanctuary for them on 100,000 acres in and around Storey County’s Virginia Range, together with an infirmary, training program and adoption center where tourists can see the horses up close. For a view of the real thing, guided tours will be available.

“We’re hoping this sanctuary could be a prototype for other sanctuaries across the state, where these horses could be seen as an asset rather than a liability,” Fiamengo said.

Dalton and Fiamengo will be honored along with others at a luncheon and photo session with Lt. Gov. Lorraine T. Hunt on Dec. 17 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Award winners will receive recognition in publications like Nevada Travel Update, which is received by 28,000 travel agents, tour operators and meeting planners, the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s annual visitor publications and Nevada Magazine.

Contact Suzie Vasquez at 881-1212 or e-mail