Thursday, September 7, 2017

Montana Trivia at Virginia City

During our week-long stay at Ennis RV Village in Ennis, Montana, we have been given advice for different places to visit. Virginia City has been mentioned over and over, so we headed there early in the week. This historical city was the first capital of the Montana Territory, and it has retained most of the buildings from that time. A walk along Main Street on the wooden sidewalks is like a walk in 1860 Montana.

The present-day cars of the visiting tourists ruined most of the shots of Main Street, but we much preferred this old jalopy. We are learning little-known Montana trivia, when we asked how the first capitol of Montana got a name like Virginia City. We were told that it was originally named after Jefferson Davis's wife--Virinia. But when the application came into the Union-controlled national office, the clerk added a "g" to the name to make it less Confederate. 

Many of the store fronts were turned to museum-like displays, while others are now restaurants or gift shops. Our favorite store had this collection of turn-of-the-century arcade games. Many of them were still working, including a number of stereoscopes. For a nickel, we watched 3D short movies that were actually a series of still photos.

After being married to the most wonderful man in the world for 36 years, Denisa was curious about what could possibly cause "married troubles." She's happy to report we are past this stage of trouble, since the short flick was about a couple's battle over who had to get up with the baby.

With the printed visitor map, we walked the entire main street. But there were also options for tours for less industrious travelers. We got a picture of the stagecoach tour passing the fire engine tour.

Then we headed up the hill, to the high point of Virginia City. This is "Boot Hill," where the graves of five men overlook the city. These men were hanged in 1864 by a vigilante force--Montana's first organized law enforcement. We learned another new-to-us Montana historical trivia fact when we saw t-shirts for sale with the following numbers on them: "3-7-77." That is the secret code for that vigilante force. We were told it was the dimension of the grave one would find themselves in if they broke the law in Virginia City (3 feet by 7 feet and buried 77 inches deep). Another Montana trivia fact: 3-7-77 is still sewn into the shoulder patches of the present-day Montana State Patrol officers.

There is a train that runs from Virginia City to Nevada City, but we just drove the few miles between the two. (Is it just us, or does it seem strange that we don't see a Montana City?) Nevada City has become the resting place of historic buildings from across this part of the state. Many have been moved here, to make an entire town that is often inhabited by re-enactors to answer tourists' questions about early life on the Montana plains.

While we are learning Montana trivia, we would have to ask "What is this state's favorite ice cream? Mark eats ice cream every day, so he would certainly be interested in this important information. We discovered Wilcoxson ice cream--the favorite Montana brand since 1912. Just for trivia research, we felt compelled to buy a half gallon.

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