VCHS alumni, now public officials, relive old tradition on Sun Mountain |

VCHS alumni, now public officials, relive old tradition on Sun Mountain

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealStorey County Reserve Deputy Peter Thomas, left, and Det. Tony Dosen haul a bucket of paint up the V in Virginia City on Thursday afternoon. Storey County Fire cadets, a Nevada Division of Forestry crew and a group of sheriff's department volunteers worked to clear brush and refurbish the letter.

Storey County Fire Chief Gary Hames saw a way to give his six new firefighters some training and contribute to Virginia City’s town spirit at the same time.

He put together a project for the fire department and the Storey County Sheriff’s Office to fix up the V on Mount Davidson overlooking the town, something that hadn’t been done for at least seven years.

About 16 firefighters, wearing heavy fire clothes, dragged thick hoses, axes and other equipment about 1,350 feet up a steep grade from the water tank to the V on Thursday, while the sheriff’s staff carted up huge sacks of lime and bluing.

The mountain, also known as Sun Mountain, is more than 6,700 feet high, and the V is 1,650 feet from the highest street in the town.

As firefighters got to work laying the hose and clearing brush, the sheriff’s men mixed the concoction, then used mops to paint the rocks. Sometimes, as the trash cans they used for the mix got low, they just poured the mixture onto the V.

Repairing the V is a tradition that Hames and Sheriff Jim Miller, both graduates of Virginia City High School, remembered well, since the high school students were responsible for this task until 2000.

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Hames said the high school students used to cart the lime, bluing and buckets of water, along with tanks to mix it in, up to the V, with the upperclassmen harassing the freshmen, even to the point or rolling the tanks down the hill and making the younger students go down and bring them up again.

Liability concerns caused the school to stop the students from doing the work

“This was a high school tradition and a group of us had been talking about doing it for awhile,” he said.

The V was put on the mountain by local high school students in April of 1926, and Miller said it was an important symbol to students and former students.

“We’re doing it because the V means a lot to everyone who lives in Virginia City, especially those who have been Muckers,” Miller said. “It is as important as the globe and anchor are to the Marine Corps.”

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.