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Service: Preserving Montana's Gold Rush Ghost Towns

Program Number: 2621RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/2/2013 - 6/8/2013;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Virginia City, Montana
Price starting at: $799.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Service Learning
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Become a key player while working with Montana Heritage Commission staff to help preserve historic artifacts and structures in a historic gold rush community, one of the Treasure State’s most significant cultural resources. The projects, tours and activities will take place in both Virginia City; a registered National Historic District and nearby Nevada City; an open-air museum.




Highlights

• Take a step back in time and appreciate your National Historic Landmark surroundings while living, working and learning in an area where gold was discovered in 1863.
• Consider the gold rush history of Alder Gulch and “Fourteen Mile City,” once the most populated center between Minneapolis and San Francisco.
• Living history presentations teach you about 19th-century Montana history with tales of life in a gold rush camp, vigilantes and frontier justice.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to one-half mile over uneven terrain on historic walks. Elevation 5,822 feet.



Coordinated by University of Montana Western.




Virginia City

This Victorian mining town in southwestern Montana is a national historic landmark and open-air museum, with more than 200 restored mining-era buildings. Gold was discovered in 1863 and the town — often considered a "working" ghost town — is still the county seat.



Accommodations
Restored authentic miner's lodgings in historic Nevada City, private baths.
Meals and Lodgings
   Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
  Virginia City, Montana 6 nights
 Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Type: Cabin
  Description: Once a bustling stage stop along the gold trail, Nevada City Hotel and Cabins offer western style rooms with private baths. The hotel is a two story log structure. Both hotel and cabins are refurbished miners lodgings restored with an eye for comfort. Meals served at local restaurants; some sack lunches at work site. Please be aware that not all dietary requirements can be accommodated at this site. You may wish to bring supplementary items. Questions? Call University of Montana Western Road Scholar (406) 683-7302.
  Contact info: Hwy 287
Nevada City, MT 59755 USA
phone: 406-843-5377
web: www.aldergulchaccommodations.com
  Room amenities: Quiet area, nearby creek and tall cottonwoods, warm and dry, a step back in time.
  Facility amenities: Nearby walking path; historic location, old west ambiance
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Cabins contain either a shower or bathtub.
  Additional nights prior: varies Seasonal rates; call (406) 843-5377 for information and reservations.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: varies Seasonal rates; call (406) 843-5377 for information and reservations.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in at 4 PM. You will be staying at Nevada City Hotel and Cabins that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast; airport shuttle departs at 8 am. You will be staying at Nevada City Hotel and Cabins the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking in Virginia City.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Virginia City, Montana
  Nearest city or town:  Dillon
  Nearest highway: Hwy 287
  Nearest airport:  Bozeman
  From End of Program
  Location: Virginia City, Montana
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Bozeman

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Greater Valley Taxi
phone: 406-388-7938
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Group rate is approximately $55; call for current group rate.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 1/2 hours 

 

Distance:

 

70 miles

   

Reservations must be made at least three days in advance; call (406) 388-7938 for rates and reservations. You may be asked to leave a message. Group shuttle departs airport at 1:30 pm. In order to take advantage of the group shuttle rate, your flight must arrive before 1 pm on Sunday and depart after 11:00 am on Saturday. Arriving in Bozeman a day early or staying an extra day may be more economical than booking individual transportation.

 

Bozeman

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Greater Valley Taxi
phone: 406-388-7938
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Group rate is approximately $55; call for current group rate.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 1/2 hours 

 

Distance:

 

70 miles

   

Return shuttle must be arranged at least three days in advance; call (406) 388-7938. Group shuttle departs site at 8:00 am. Outside of the above scheduled times, individual transportation (not at group rate) can be reserved through Greater Valley Taxi (406) 388-7938 (72 hours notice required). Car rental and drop-off are available at the Bozeman airport; drop-off is not available in Virginia City.

 
Driving Directions
  Bozeman Travel west on HWY 84 (38 miles) to Norris. Turn south onto HWY 287 at Norris (16 miles) to Ennis. Continue west out of Ennis on HWY 287 to Virginia City (14 miles). Continue on 1 mile to Nevada City.
  Butte Travel east on I-90 to Whitehall (23 miles). Take HWY 55 south 12 miles to Junction #41/#55; continue south to Twin Bridges (14 miles). Turn southeast on HWY 287; continue on for 26 miles to Nevada City.
  Dillon Take HWY 41 north to Twin Bridges (28 miles). From Twin Bridges, travel east on HWY 287 for 26 miles to Nevada City.
Elevation Note: 5,822 ft

Equipment Requirements: Bring work gloves, your own tool belt with favorite tools if you wish.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome dinner and Orientation
(Sunday, June 2)

Note: Introductions and orientation



   
 Afternoon: Check in at 4 pm.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Orientation and Introductions.
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: History, background, project and safety orientation. Begin work projects. Discover history of gold mining town through tour and discussion.
(Monday, June 3)

Note: Work projects begin according to ability level. Afternoon tour will involve walking and standing on the boardwalks and in and out of the buildings.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: History & background; safety meeting and project orientation. Begin work projects may include, but are not limited to building an arbor, benches, tables; putting up picket fences and other prep work involved; some light gardening and completion of a garden fence and gates; painting (weather permitting); minor work on an old chicken coop, building water troughs and general repair in Nevada City . There will also be less active projects available such as sewing & carding wool.
 Lunch: Lunch at nearby restaurant.
 Afternoon: Work projects continue through mid afternoon. On a guided on walking tour of Virginia City discover one of the west's best preserved 1860s gold mining town and walk the same boardwalks that desperate Vigilantes once patrolled. There will be standing and walking involved.
 Dinner: Dinner at nearby restaurant
 Evening: Participants Discuss 19th century topics lead by Montana Heritage Commission staff.
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Work projects and Living History Presention
(Tuesday, June 4)

Note: Work according to ability level.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: Daily briefing. Work projects. Program lodgings are in Nevada City which was purchased by the Montana Legislature in 1997 and is now managed by the Montana Heritage Commission. Preservation efforts are ongoing as the Montana Heritage Commission’s goal is to promote and preserve the legacy of sites such as these. The city, with nearly 100 buildings dating from 1863 to the early 1900s, and nearby Virginia City, a well-preserved Victorian gold mining town and the site of Montana’s second territorial capital and second major gold rush, offer the look and feel of the gold rush era. Both towns are off the beaten path now and peaceful, featuring historic buildings of beautiful wood and stone, open air museums of days gone by. The location is truly a step back in time and offers immersion in a fascinating slice of Montana’s past.
 Lunch: Lunch at nearby restaurant.
 Afternoon: Work projects. Free time.
 Dinner: Dinner at nearby restaurant.
 Evening: Nevada City History presentation by Montana Heritage Commission staff. Take a stroll through the past and discover the people, the stories and life of Montana Territory 1863 - 1865. Witness the past unfolding in Nevada City as the historic vignettes bring early Montana history to life.
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Work projects, gold panning, optional feild trip on the trail of the Vigilantes and a 19th century melodrama in historic theater.
(Wednesday, June 5)

Note: Work according to ability level. There will be some bending over and resting on knees when panning for gold.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: Daily briefing. Work projects. After gold was discovered in Alder Gulch in 1863, ten thousand hopefuls crowded in with settlements scattered up and down the “gulch.” The settlements were called “Fourteen Mile City” and included the towns of Virginia City, Summit, Alder, Nevada City and Adobetown. Life was rough-and-tumble here with Vigilantes, frontier justice and Boot Hill. Nevada and Virginia Cities were the gulch’s principle hubs of commerce and tell the story of how immediately after gold was discovered, this isolated mountain pass and nearby creek boomed. In its short-lived glory days, the 14-mile stretch of gold-rich stream boasted the most densely populated center between Minneapolis and San Francisco and is regarded as one of the richest placer gold strikes in our country’s history.
 Lunch: Sack lunches at work site.
 Afternoon: Work projects. Pan for gold and consider the life of a miner at Alder Gulch in 1863 as you discover the history of the gold rush which produced the largest amount of placer gold in the Northwest - an estimated $120 million. There will be an optional history field trip on the trail of the Vigilantes for those who don't want to pan for gold.
 Dinner: Dinner at nearby restaurant.
 Evening: Participants will sit back and enjoy authentic 19th century melodrama and a varied, vigorous vagary of vivacious vaudeville variety acts as showcased by theater troupe in Virginia City’s historic Opera House, founded in 1948
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Work projects and Living History staff presents "A Trappers Tale".
(Thursday, June 6)

Note: Work according to ability level.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: Daily briefing. Work projects.
 Lunch: Sack lunches at work site.
 Afternoon: Work projects. Free time.
 Dinner: Dinner at nearby restaurant.
 Evening: The Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean in early 1800s lead to the development of fur trading in the West. The Indians had little interest in trapping, so fur trading companies hired white frontiersmen as trappers who were known as "mountain men" because they roamed through the wild areas of the Rocky Mountains to find fur. Many a tale developed and pariticipants will have the rare opportunity to hear such a tale. "A Trappers Tale" will be presented by Nevada City Living History staff member.
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Finishing up projects and closing presentation.
(Friday, June 7)

Note: Work according to ability level



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: Daily briefing. Work projects.
 Lunch: Lunch at nearby restaurant.
 Afternoon: Work projects wind up. Free time.
 Dinner: Dinner at nearby restaurant.
 Evening: Closing presentation
   
Accommodations: Nevada City Hotel and Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Independent departures
(Saturday, June 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at nearby restaurant.
 Morning: Airport shuttle departs at 8 am.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Virginia City, Montana Chamber of Commerce
History, events, lodgings and tours. For additional information, visit www.virginiacitychamber.com
  Madison River Canyon Earthquake Lake Visitor Center
Visitor Center explains the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake and provides displays on earthquakes, plate tectonics, a working seismograph, outside signage and a walking path. The observatory overlooks the site where the mountain fell that night and formed the lake and offers scheduled movies and talks. For additional information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin
  Virginia City Preservation Alliance
Overview: Read about gold rush & Vigilante history; lists local businesses & sights; calendar of events For additional information, visit www.virginiacity.com/
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Witness to History: The Remarkable Untold Story of Virginia City and Nevada City, MT.


Author: John Ellingsen


Description: John Ellingsen, Virginia City Curator Emeritus, begins with a description of the rough beginnings and gold rush glory days of both Virginia City and Nevada City. He then goes on to detail, in a writing style that is ‘part history, part memoir and part passionate essay,’ the importance of historic preservation. This unique and often moving book by the man who has dedicated his life to the restoration and saving of the two cities is illustrated with familiar and rare photographs as well as his own discerning drawings. The author’s numerous awards include a lifetime achievement award from the Montana Preservation Alliance, The Governor’s Award for historic preservation and a special award for preservation from the Department of the Interior for his work at Garnett Ghost Town.



Montana Pay-Dirt: A Guide to the Mining Camps of the Treasure State


Author: Muriel Sibell Wolle


Description: This history of Montana's most famous mining camps is accurately and thoroughly chronicled via Wolle's extensive archival research, fascinating interviews with old timers and her first-person stories. The sites were researched and visited in the early 1950s and include wonderful narrative of the author's explorations and adventures in the backroads of Montana's mountains. Wolle, a talented artist, illustrated this book with her 'handsome sketches of ghost town streetscapes.' The book endures as a standard history of Montana's mining frontier.



A Day Late and a Dollar Short


Author: Spike Van Cleve


Description: Gloriously written short stories of ranching in days gone by for nuances of Montana - poignant, funny, real. Read this before you come to Big Sky Country. The author was born on the family ranch in 1912, attended Harvard University and returned to Montana where he and his wife, Barbara, continued to ranch and to operate the historic LAZY K BAR Dude Ranch. Among other offices, he served as president of the Dude Ranchers Association and as chairman of the board of trustees and a director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. For his most poignant and lovely story in this collection, “Cody and Terry,” and for the movie documentary, “Spike-Montana Horseman” he was awarded Wrangler Awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame



Montana Mining Ghost Towns


Author: Barbara Fifer


Description: A recording of Montana's historic and abandoned mining towns is presented through colorful images, historical photographs, newspaper excerpts and text describing life in the mining camps - prospectors, outlaws, colorful characters, vigilantes and corporate shenanigans.



Montana Ghost Towns and Gold Camps: A Pictorial Guide


Author: William Whitfield


Description: Pictorial history includes over 400 photographs and textual commentary detailing ghost towns and mining and gold rush camps at 71 historic locations around the Treasure State. Writer-photographer Whitfield's book reflects more than a dozen years of research and field work.



Vigilante Days and Ways


Author: Nathaniel Pitt Langford


Description: This first person account of Vigilante justice in Montana was written in 1890 by Nathaniel Pitt Langford who, as a member of the Virginia City, Montana Vigilance Committee in the 1860s, was on the inside. This is the Montana Vigilante story of 1862-1866. The dramatic scenes and action that the author heard, witnessed and participated in were the dealings of Vigilante Justice to clean up violence in Virginia City and Bannack, Montana. The book begins with an historic photograph entitled 'Vigilante Execution' and a dedication ‘to the memory of those unknown pioneers who lost their lives in laying the foundation of the empire of the new great west.’ This western classic had been out of print when it was reintroduced in 2003 to a new generation of western history enthusiasts. It is written in the style of the age, in flowery, melodramatic Victorian prose style which leaves no doubt of its authenticity and substance. ‘Here is the old west as it really was,' the Montana gold frontier before formal law enforcement arrived. Here’s gold rush history, Vigilantes and Frontier Justice.





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