Tag Archive: Virginia City

Mark Twain Trail Quote of the Day – Friday – March 26, 2021


“Mark Twain, though he did not go for spiritualism or immortality, would have agreed that siblings could tune into each other from opposite sides of the ocean. He believed, he once wrote,  that a mind “still inhabiting the flesh” could reach another mind at great remove. There was an inciting incident in the spring of 1875 (before Twain’s red hair went gray), which he recollected as “the oddest thing that ever happened to me.”

The mail had just come at Twain’s home in Hartford, and he held a fat letter, still sealed. “Now I will do a miracle,” he drawled. He recognized the hand of someone from whom he said he hadn’t heard in eleven years. Even so, he knew without opening it that the letter contained a book idea. Their minds had been “in close and crystal-clear communication with each other across three thousand miles of mountain and desert on the morning of the 2nd of March.” Twain, in effect, had sat down to write to this very contact, on the same day, about this very same idea. Twain answered: “Dear Dan—Wonders never will cease.””

Chantel Tarroli, Mark Twain’s Mind Waves, The Paris Review




Mark Twain Was Always Looking For Things That Would Make People Laugh

What cannot ever be forgotten about Mark Twain was that he was always looking for something in his writing and words that would make people laugh.  Twain knew that laughter was one of the most powerful forces on Earth, and this Twain quote exemplified the power of laughter —–>

A letter written by Mark Twain from Virginia City, Nevada on July 12, 1863 when he was working for the San Francisco Daily Morning Call shows Twain’s funny-bone well and how well he can both insult folks while getting the same folks to laugh, at themselves and others.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, July 15, 1863

(From Our Regular Correspondent.)

VIRGINIA CITY, N.T., July 12, 1863

Editors Morning Call: – Last week the weather was passably cool here, but it has moderated a good deal since then. The thermometer stands at a thousand, in the shade, to-day. It will probably go to a million before night. But the evenings are as cool and balmy as a shroud – wherefore, we refrain from grumbling. The weather took a curious freak yesterday: it actually clouded up and rained for five minutes – the first time such a thing has occurred here within my recollection. Several of the drops were assayed at once, of course, and found to be genuine; but they contained neither gold nor silver. Had the storm lasted an hour, it would have been incorporated under the Territorial law.

The races over the Winters course at Washoe City have commanded a good deal of interest during the past week. Marcus D. Boruck, editor of the San Francisco Spirit of the Times, attended them, for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for his paper. So far, Joe Winters’ Miami is the winning horse. The race yesterday was two mile heats, best three in five, and the competitors Miami, Strideaway and Kate Mitchell. Miami won, in three straight heats. Time: 1:53, 1:54, 1:55. To-morrow finishes the season.

A mass meeting was held at Maguire’s Opera House this afternoon, for the purpose of raising a Sanitary Fund for the relief of soldiers wounded in the recent great battles in Pennsylvania and at Vicksburg. The enterprise was so insufficiently advertised that the theatre was not more than half full, and I was a little disappointed in the sum collected. They could have done about half as well in any other town of the same population, and I dislike to see Virginia fail to go ahead of all similar cities. Not more than a dozen or so of our wealthy me were present, and none of our great men were represented by authority. However, the meeting was very enthusiastic. Mr. R. M. Daggett was elected President, and Wm. M. Stewart, Esq., set the ball in motion with a short, stirring speech, and a check for $500; Col. John A. Collins followed with a speech and another for $500; and in a few minutes about $6,000 was subscribed altogether. This is fourteen thousand dollars short of what ought to have been collected. However, we shall come out all right before the week is out. Committees will canvass the county for the next three days, and on Thursday evening the Sanitary Fund will take a benefit at Maguire’s Opera House; the free-list will be suspended, and the price of tickets placed at two or three dollars to all parts of the house. It will be a matter of small consequence what the play is – the theatre will be packed to its utmost capacity. Between the acts the audience will be permitted to subscribe to the fund, whether they want to or not. Mr. Paul proposed, to-day, that inasmuch as our former donations had gone to the New York and Cincinnati commissions, we now raise $20,000, cast in into a huge silver block, inscribe “Vicksburg” upon it, and send it to St. Louis. The idea is sound.

Three of the Pioneer coaches met with accidents day before yesterday, this side of Placerville. One of them rolled down a slight precipice, and was smashed to pieces. Mr. Teschemacher, of San Francisco, was in it, but escaped uninjured. Mr. F. T. Moss had three ribs broken, and Mr.G. T. Sewall, of Humboldt District, received a small bruise or so. Mr. Sewall is the profound Justice of the Peace who held an inquest last Fall at Gravelly Ford, on the Humboldt River, on a petrified man, who had been sitting there, cemented to the bed-rock, for the last three or four hundred years. The citizens wished to blast him out and bury him, but Judge S. refused to allow the sacrilege to be committed.

I have been around among mines this week. The Savage company are keeping five mills going, and shipping bullion every day. I descended the main shaft of the Hale & Norcross, three hundred feet, and found they had not yet struck the ledge in the lower level, and will not for the next five or six days. The Chollar company are putting up the finest and most extensive pumping and hoisting machinery in the Territory. They are shipping bullion regularly, and will increase the quantity vastly as soon as their new works are completed, say eight weeks hence. The Potosi company are also erecting hoisting machinery at the C street shaft. The Virginia Rogers Company are at work again, they tell me. I went all through the Ophir, too, through the extensive excavations in the “north mine,” and thence under the Spanish, by way of the “fifth gallery,” to the “south mine,” in this portion of the mine the Company are drifting south on the ledge to find the rich streak of ore lately struck in the Central – they have about fifty fee to drift yet. The yield of the Ophir – in the Company’s own mills – was nearly $200,000 last month. The Gould & Curry mine doubled this yield, perhaps, but the rock was worked in many mills other than their own. The Silver City mines are coming out handsomely, and are growing in favor every day. Those of Gold Hill are being worked with increased energy and profit, and new machinery of an expensive character has been added to several of them lately. The Echo Company are making preparations to sink a new shaft in the vicinity of the Succor Mill, as it is dangerous to work the old incline, on account of its caving propensities. The last batch of rock from the Echo – thirty tons, third-class – yielded seventy-one dollars to the ton in the Pioneer Mill. The first-class ore goes clear out of sight into the thousands. The Echo is probably the riches mine in Gold Hill District. Work on the Yellow Jacket and Belcher is progressing as usual, and the stock continues to advance in price. Two months hence will see these mines pretty thoroughly opened, and prove them, doubtless, to be among the best in Washoe.

The Humboldt Register man has taken umbrage at something I said in my last letter – about the day of excitements in Humboldt being over – the people having gone soberly to work, and left that sort of thing to newer districts. He says Humboldt never dealt in excitements. Now, in my opinion – however, on second thought I will not discuss this matter with that editor. I can “lam” him.

I will conclude by hashing up a little general news for you:

Dispatches from Salt Lake say that Judge Mott, of this District, is there, on his way to Virginia.

The Hoosier State Mill, between here and Gold Hill, was sold by Messrs. Blasdell & Pray, a day or two since, to Messrs. George Hurst and Jake Clark, for forty thousand dollars, cash. It is an excellent little eight stamp mill, and worth the money.

A billiard tournament came off here during the week, between two of your most distinguished players, A. W. Jamieson and J. W. Little. The game (five hundred points,) was played on a carom table, and Jamieson won it, beating his competitor one hundred and seven. Mr. Jamieson has not his superior on the Pacific coast.

In the theatrical line, we are to have a complimentary benefit to Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Pope next Wednesday evening at the Court House, and about Tuesday evening that sickest of all sentimental drama, “East Lynne,” will be turned loose upon us at the Opera House. It used to afford me much solid comfort to see those San Franciscans whine and snuffle and slobber all over themselves at Maguire’s Theatre, when the consumptive “William” was in the act of “handing in his checks,” as it were, according to the regular programme of East Lynne – and now I am to enjoy a season of happiness again, I suppose. If the tears flow as freely here as I count upon, water privileges will be cheap in Virginia next week. However, Mrs. Julia Dean Hayne don’t “take on” in the piece like Miss Sophie Edwin; wherefore, she fails to pump an audience dry, like the latter.

Now, from the sentimental to the practical: The big chimney at the Could & Curry mill is finished at last. It is one hundred and fifteen feet high, and handsomely based and capped with cut stone.

I forgot to say that Maguire’s new opera house here is a little larger and rather handsomer than its counterpart in San Francisco, and is crowded seven nights in the week.


The First Time Samuel Clemens Used Mark Twain – February 3, 1863 – The Territorial Enterprise

The first time that Samuel Clemens used the name Mark Twain was in early 1863 in a letter from Carson City to the newspaper he was working for The Territorial Enterprise —–> 

Territorial Enterprise, February 3, 1863


January 31, 1863

EDS. ENTERPRISE: I feel very much as if I had just awakened out of a long sleep. I attribute it to the fact that I have slept the greater part of the time for the last two days and nights. On Wednesday, I sat up all night, in Virginia, in order to be up early enough to take the five o’clock stage on Thursday morning. I was on time. It was a great success. I had a cheerful trip down to Carson, in company with that incessant talker, Joseph T. Goodman. I never saw him flooded with such a flow of spirits before. He restrained his conversation, though, until we had traveled three or four miles, and were just crossing the divide between Silver City and Spring Valley, when he thrust his head out of the dark stage, and allowed a pallid light from the coach lamp to illuminate his features for a moment, after which he returned to darkness again, and sighed and said, “Damn it!” with some asperity. I asked him who he meant it for, and he said, “The weather out there.” As we approached Carson, at about half past seven o’clock, he thrust his head out again, and gazed earnestly in the direction of that city – after which he took it in again, with his nose very much frosted. He propped the end of that organ upon the end of his finger, and looked down pensively upon it – which had the effect of making him appear cross-eyed – and remarked, “O, damn it!” with great bitterness. I asked him what he was up to this time, and he said, “The cold, damp fog – it is worse than the weather.” This was his last. He never spoke again in my hearing. He went on over the mountains, with a lady fellow-passenger from here. That will stop his clatter, you know, for he seldom speaks in the presence of ladies.

In the evening I felt a mighty inclination to go to a party some where. There was to be one at Governor J. Neely Johnson’s, and I went there and asked permission to stand around awhile. This was granted in the most hospitable manner, and visions of plain quadrilles soothed my weary soul. I felt particularly comfortable, for if there is one thing more grateful to my feelings than another, it is a new house – a large house, with its ceilings embellished with snowy mouldings; its floors glowing with warm-tinted carpets; with cushioned chairs and sofas to sit on, and a piano to listen to; with fires so arranged that you can see them, and know that there is no humbug about it; with walls garnished with pictures, and above all, mirrors, wherein you may gaze, and always find some thing to admire, you know. I have a great regard for a good house, and a girlish passion for mirrors. Horace Smith, Esq., is also very fond of mirrors. He came and looked in the glass for an hour, with me. Finally, it cracked – the night was pretty cold – and Horace Smith’s reflection was split right down the centre. But where his face had been, the damage was greatest – a hundred cracks converged from his reflected nose, like spokes from the hub of a wagon wheel. It was the strangest freak the weather has done this Winter. And yet the parlor seemed very warm and comfortable, too.

About nine o’clock the Unreliable came and asked Gov. Johnson to let him stand on the porch. That creature has got more impudence than any person I ever saw in my life. Well, he stood and flattened his nose against the parlor window, and looked hungry and vicious – he always looks that way – until Col. Musser arrived with some ladies, when he actually fell in their wake and came swaggering in, looking as if he thought he had been anxiously expected. He had on my fine kid boots, and my plug hat and my white kid gloves (with slices of his prodigious hands grinning through the bursted seams ), and my heavy gold repeater, which I had been offered thousands and thousands of dollars for, many and many a time. He took these articles out of my trunk, at Washoe City, about a month ago, when we went out there to report the proceedings of the Convention. The Unreliable intruded himself upon me in his cordial way and said, “How are you, Mark, old boy? when d’you come down? It’s brilliant, ain’t it? Appear to enjoy themselves, don’t they? Lend a fellow two bits, can’t you?” He always winds up his remarks that way. He appears to have an in satiable craving for two bits.

The music struck up just then, and saved me. The next moment I was far, far at sea in a plain quadrille. We carried it through with distinguished success; that is, we got as far as “balance around,” and “halt-a-man-left,” when I smelled hot whisky punch, or some thing of that nature. I tracked the scent through several rooms, and finally discovered the large bowl from whence it emanated. I found the omnipresent Unreliable there, also. He set down an empty goblet, and remarked that he was diligently seeking the gentle men’s dressing room. I would have shown him where it was, but it occurred to him that the supper table and the punch-bowl ought not to be left unprotected; wherefore, we staid there and watched them until the punch entirely evaporated. A servant came in then to replenish the bowl, and we left the refreshments in his charge. We probably did wrong, but we were anxious to join the hazy dance. The dance was hazier than usual, after that. Sixteen couples on the floor at once, with a few dozen spectators scattered around, is calculated to have that effect in a brilliantly lighted parlor, I believe. Everything seemed to buzz, at any rate. After all the modern dances had been danced several times, the people adjourned to the supper-room. I found my wardrobe out there, as usual, with the Unreliable in it. His old distemper was upon him: he was desperately hungry. I never saw a man eat as much as he did in my life. I have the various items of his supper here in my note-book. First, he ate a plate of sandwiches; then he ate a handsomely iced poundcake; then he gobbled a dish of chicken salad; after which he ate a roast pig; after that, a quantity of blancmange; then he threw in several glasses of punch to fortify his appetite, and finished his monstrous repast with a roast turkey. Dishes of brandy-grapes, and jellies, and such things, and pyramids of fruits, melted away before him as shadows fly at the sun’s approach. I am of the opinion that none of his ancestors were present when the five thousand were miraculously fed in the old Scriptural times. I base my opinion upon the twelve baskets of scraps and the little fishes that remained over after that feast. If the Unreliable himself had been there, the provisions would just about have held out, I think.

After supper, the dancing was resumed, and after a while, the guests indulged in music to a considerable extent. Mrs. J. sang a beautiful Spanish song; Miss R., Miss T., Miss P., and Miss S., sang a lovely duet; Horace Smith, Esq., sang “I’m sitting on the stile, Mary,” with a sweetness and tenderness of expression which I have never heard surpassed; Col. Musser sang “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” so fervently that every heart in that assemblage was purified and made better by it; Mrs. T. and Miss C., and Mrs. T. and Mrs. G. sang “Meet me by moonlight alone” charmingly; Judge Dixson sang “O, Charming May” with great vivacity and artistic effect; Joe Winters and Hal Clayton sang the Marseilles Hymn in French, and did it well; Mr. Wasson sang “Call me pet names” with his usual excellence (Wasson has a cultivated voice, and a refined musical taste, but like Judge Brumfield, he throws so much operatic affectation into his singing that the beauty of his performance is sometimes marred by it – I could not help noticing this fault when Judge Brumfield sang “Rock me to sleep, mother”); Wm. M. Gillespie sang “Thou hast wounded the spirit that loved thee,” gracefully and beautifully, and wept at the recollection of the circumstance which he was singing about. Up to this time I had carefully kept the Unreliable in the background, fearful that, under the circumstances, his insanity would take a musical turn; and my prophetic soul was right; he eluded me and planted himself at the piano; when he opened his cavernous mouth and displayed his slanting and scattered teeth, the effect upon that convivial audience was as if the gates of a graveyard, with its crumbling tombstones, had been thrown open in their midst; then he shouted something about he “would not live alway” – and if I ever heard anything absurd in my life, that was it. He must have made up that song as he went along. Why, there was no more sense in it, and no more music, than there is in his ordinary conversation. The only thing in the whole wretched performance that redeemed it for a moment, was something about “the few lucid moments that dawn on us here.” That was all right; because the “lucid moments” that dawn on that Unreliable are almighty few, I can tell you. I wish one of them would strike him while I am here, and prompt him to return my valuables to me. I doubt if he ever gets lucid enough for that, though. After the Unreliable had finished squawking, I sat down to the piano and sang – however, what I sang is of no consequence to anybody. It was only a graceful little gem from the horse opera.

At about two o’clock in the morning the pleasant party broke up and the crowd of guests distributed themselves around town to their respective homes; and after thinking the fun all over again, I went to bed at four o’clock. So, having been awake forty-eight hours, I slept forty-eight, in order to get even again, which explains the proposition I began this letter with.

Yours, dreamily,


The Mark Twain Trail Coming In 2024!

The Mark Twain Trail is a series of Mark Twain Adventure + Education Visitor Centers in the cities of Virginia City, Nevada + Incline Village, Nevada + San Francisco, California + Angels Camp, California + Honolulu, Hawaii where visitors can learn about how Samuel Clemens evolved into the Great Mark Twain.

Virginia City, Nevada

North Lake Tahoe, Nevada + California

Angels Camp, California

San Francisco, California


Honolulu, Hawaii