Residents sift through Virginia City fire
Oct. 28, 1875
People wandered through the debris of Virginia City, yesterday, with such a look in their faces as men and women wear when they gather around a coffin to look upon one who in life was very dear, but who is gone forever.
It was a look simply at the remains. Probably the burning over of no other half-mile square in the world would have inflicted so much misery, near and remote, as a half-mile square that had been swept by fire here.
In most places, the ruins are still too hot to admit of any attempt at rebuilding, but here and there lumber is being salvaged, and no doubt within a day or two the sound of the saw and hammer will begin to (unreadable).
In this course we trust the authorities will not delay ordering a new survey of the city, that uniform grades may be established, streets straightened and widened where possible, and boundaries definitely defines.
No other so good an opportunity for this most necessary work will ever be presented.
The most anxious questions yesterday were, “Is the Ophir shaft safe?” and “How long will it take to start the cages in the Consolidated Virginia shaft?”
This latter question can not yet be answered.
Some very long and heavy timbers are required for foundations, which can not be flumed down the Sierra, but must be hauled on wagons.
There were six inches of snow in the mountains yesterday, and it snowed heavily last night.
Should the weather remain cold, and other storms follow soon, the getting of the timbers might prove a serious matter, but if the present weather clears and keeps open, as usual at this season of the year for a month, it will be all right.
No estimates can yet be made of the extent of the damage to the boilers and heavy engines of the mills and hoisting works — whether they can be saved in part, or whether they are wholly ruined. Everything was too hot yesterday to permit of any examinations.
Next to the homeless ones, the burnt machinery of the different works is the most pittiable sight to be seen amid the universal wreck.
They are but scarred and shapeless ruins now.
But three days ago they were titans, so radiant with movement and strength that they almost seemed alive.
It is rash to make predictions, but we believe that possibly within sixty days, and probably within ninety, we shall again boast the regular reparations of the big monsters, and know that the old stream of wealth to again in full flow.
We have not seen a businessman who is not determined to resume as soon as a tent can be pitched, and not one who thinks of changing Virginia for another field.
Amid what looks as if it ought to be enough to cause universal despair, there seems to be a brave confidence and unflinching determination to overcome the present misfortune.