Virginia City's ghosts out in force tonight

From its haunted back alleys to its boardwalks and byways, Virginia City is set for "Ghost Town 2000," a special event tonight geared toward families.

It features four main attractions: the "Ghost Train Ride," "Haunted Mine Tours," "Haunted Hallways" at the Fourth Ward School, and "Ghost Walks."

Some details are listed here, but many more surprises are in store for those who brave the night.

- "Ghost Train Ride" on the V&T

Scheduled for 6:13, 7:45, and 10:13 p.m., the "Ghost Train" will to leave from the Virginia City station on "F" Street. Stops at several haunted locales are scheduled as the train winds its way to Gold Hill. (Watch for the headless horseman along the track.) Food, beverages and entertainment will greet the travelers at the Gold Hill Depot before the train makes the perilous return trek to Virginia City.

Tickets will be sold at the Virginia City station for $8 per adult, and $5 per child. For more information, call Mike Roberts at 746-8656.

- "Ghost Walks"

Mark Twain, Julia Bulette and James (Old Virginny) Finney will host guided walking tours of Virginia City, with an emphasis on local ghosts and their sometimes harrowing tales.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. the tours leave from the Fourth Ward School every 30 to 45 minutes, past local "haunts" like The Sugar Loaf Mountain Motel, which purportedly has seven ghosts. Numerous emanations have been seen in the basement of the Mark Twain Book Store, and the Washoe Club has four known ghosts. The Wild West Souvenir Gift shop used to be a mortuary, where Julia Bulette is supposedly buried. The tour continues down the hill to "D" Street, past popular local mansions like the Chollar and Mackay, (also haunted), before returning to the Fourth Ward School.

Tours last about an hour, and cost $2 for adults, and $1 for children.

- "Haunted Hallways"

The Fourth Ward School will be open for guided tours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"Spirits of people past will be visiting with our guests," executive director Mark Preiss said, noting that voices will rise from the past: Teachers, janitors, and principals that haunted the halls before the school's closing in 1936 will be revisited.

Fearless Fourth Ward staff and volunteers, in costume, will be conducting the 20 to 30-minute tours which cost $1 per person, and leave at 10 to 15-minute intervals.

"We've never done anything like this before, but we're thrilled to be participating," Preiss said, noting that staff and volunteers will be handing out treats, and maybe a few tricks.

- "Haunted Mine Tours"

From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., the Chollar Mine will conduct tours from its location on "F" Street behind the Chollar Mansion. Cost is $6 for adults, and $3 for children.

"Ghost Town 2000" promises a range of other celebrations including a pumpkin carving contest at the Virginia City Mall. Most stores and merchants on "C" Street will stay open to hand out treats to the little ones in costume, and some businesses will be offering hot apple cider, coffee, hot chocolate and toys. There will be something for everyone in Virginia City.

Shootin' Starz Stage Company's director, producer, and jack-of-all-trades Mike Roberts chaired the committee for this town-wide bash, sponsored by Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority and the Virginia City-Gold Hill Chamber of Commerce.

Event tickets covering the four main attractions, the "Ghost Train," "Ghost Walk," "Haunted Mine Tour" and "Haunted Hallways," are available: $15 for individuals,$25 for couples, $35 for families of up to 5. For more information call the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority at 847-7500, the Chamber of Commerce at 847-0311, or Mike Roberts at 746-8656.


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