A bustling modern capital city on the fast track to prosperity and growth or a lonely desert boomtown haunted by a dark century of forgotten history hidden behind the walls of old Victorian homes?
To some newcomers, the scariest thing about the area is the price of a new home.
But to others, those who live it, those who have heard screams from an empty house or looked up to see someone else's face in the mirror, downtown Carson City has always been a place with one foot dragging through an eerie past - a sleepy ghost town with a history of outlaws, strange disappearances and untimely deaths - and one foot trying to escape past all of it.
Groups of 40 to 50 intrepid souls braved the morning chills and toured the favorite haunts of local ghosts and ghouls Saturday during the 2004 Carson City Ghost Walk.
Joy Evans of the Carson City Redevelopment and Convention and Visitors Bureau warned spirited walkers beforehand of what they might witness. From the mysterious grandfather clock in the Governor's Mansion to the famous "housekeeping ghost" who still keeps watch over the old Edwards House, anything was possible. Some brought cameras with them in an attempt to capture any "orbs" or strange balls of light on film.
The one-mile journey of paranormal paranoia took visitors through Bliss Mansion with 7,000 square feet of haunted partygoers laughing and joking from an empty third-floor ballroom, once the site of formal parties of the town's elite.
Owner Joyce Harrington said "lots of people have reported hearing things and even feeling blasts of cold air in the summer - a ghost hunter's sign of spirits present."
"I've never been frightened myself," she says. "I feel there's a presence, but it's a loving one. Mischievous, but definitely loving."
A stop at the Governor's Mansion gave some a surprise glimpse of an unexpected apparition - current resident, Kenny Guinn. Nothing scary or supernatural about him, unless you happen to be a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.
Now in its 12th year, the Ghost Walk was organized by the Carson City Visitors Bureau and hosted by the Nevada State Museum.
Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.