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Rush to Washoe: The Rise of the Comstock
They came to the Comstock to get rich! Some did, most didn't, and many died trying.
When they found gold and silver in 1859, Nevada's landscape was forever changed. In only twenty years, the deepest and most productive silver mines in the world were carved into the earth, and millions of dollars in ore were taken out. Virginia City quickly became an international crossroads. The Comstock became a magnet for the greatest literary and artistic talents of the day, and absorbed immigrants from dozens of countries.
Please join us for a celebration of early Comstock history.
Exhibits | October 2009 – February 2010
On this 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, two exhibits in the Knowledge Center portray life in the Virginia City area through writings, business records, photographs, and other materials. The exhibits showcase rare items from Special Collections that have never been on display, as well as exceptional artifacts from Virginia City digs.
- Special Collections exhibit area, third floor, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (9 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Wednesdays in October)
- Whittemore Gallery, first floor
- Special artifacts on loan from the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office and the W.M. Keck Museum
- 3D images courtesy of Howard Goldbaum
To enhance your appreciation of the Comstock Era, join us for a series of evening "conversations" with noted local experts. Complimentary parking is available in the Brian Whalen Garage.
Bonanza! How Virginia City has touched the world for 150 years (video)
Ron James, Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer, discusses how the Comstock Lode was one of the richest deposits ever discovered, but the mining district represented much more than astounding wealth.
October 7, 2009 | 7:00 p.m. | Knowledge Center, Faculty & Graduate Reading Room
Mark Twain’s Comstock: the Archaeology of Early Virginia City and Behind the Scenes at Piper’s Opera House
Don Hardesty, UNR Professor of Anthropology, presents recent archaeological research in Virginia City that sheds light on saloons, opera houses, and ethnic groups on the "Barbary Coast" and beyond, dating to the early years of the Comstock. Patty Cafferata, attorney and author of More than a Song and a Dance: The Heyday of Piper's Opera House, describes three generations of Piper's Opera House buildings, the productions, and the private lives of the owners.
October 14, 2009 | 7:00 p.m. | Knowledge Center, Faculty & Graduate Reading Room
The Comstock’s Literary Mother Lode
Cheryll Glotfelty, UNR Associate Professor of English, will reveal the riches of Comstock literature and tell some tales about the characters who penned it, writers such as Dan De Quille, Sam Davis and Alf Doten who are known collectively as "The Sagebrush School."
October 21, 2009 | 7:00 p.m. | Knowledge Center, Faculty & Graduate Reading Room
The Psychoscope: A Sensational Drama in Five Acts by R.M. Daggett and J.T. Goodman (1871)
Written and first performed in Virginia City in 1872, The Psychoscope is notable for its futuristic science fiction elements, including its namesake invention which anticipates the development of the lie detector. Considered one of the earliest examples of realism in American theater, The Psychoscope’s frank depiction of a brothel assured its failure to find a wider audience. David Fenimore has adapted this play by Mark Twain’s two close friends, Rollin Mallory Daggett and Joseph Thompson Goodman, for an enjoyable hour of reader’s theater. The world's leading authority on Comstock-era writers, Dr. Lawrence I. Berkove, will introduce the play.
Produced by David Fenimore and Ann Medaille.
October 28, 2009 | 7:00 p.m. | Knowledge Center, Wells Fargo Auditorium
Lode-ing Up on Literary Prospects – a seminar on uncovering lost and hidden works in libraries and archives
Dr. Lawrence I. Berkove (Professor emeritus, University of Michigan, Dearborn), the world’s leading authority on Nevada’s Sagebrush School of writers, will share his expertise in rescuing valuable literary works from obscurity.