The Night Before (a Comstock) Christmas

Comstock Christmas Bells

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the mines,
The men heard the whistles that signaled the time.

From the bowels of the earth, they were pulled to the top,
Up out of the shaft, then they came to a stop.

From the Chollar and Yellowjacket they came,
From the Savage and Belcher, and some with no name.

With lanterns in hand and dirt on their faces,
They started their hike to their favorite places.

The frozen snow sang as they walked or they rode,
Up the hill to the bars of the old Comstock Lode.

They went to the Delta or the Boston for action,
Others to the Bucket of Blood for their satisfaction.

Saloons and bars were their gathering places,
When drinking and gambling and hoping for aces.

Some men ordered whiskey, some ordered wine,
Cold beer was a favorite — soon all men felt fine.

The big shots showed up and bought a few rounds,
While girls of the evening came out on the town.

At midnight, the whistle of the Lyon heard clear,
Across the Divide announced Christmas was here.

The bells of Saint Mary and Saint Paul’s soon did ring,
Calling the faithful to worship their King.

The miners raised their glasses to toast and to cheer,
And to remember the fellows who no longer were there.

In the east, the clouds parted to reveal a star bright,
The men went out to see in the cold, winter night.

And when they returned, they raised up a cheer,
“Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!”

Virginia City, Nevada


Perhaps no other area best symbolizes the Comstock region than Virginia City, Nev. Nestled high in the mountains and only minutes from Reno and Lake Tahoe, V.C. is the quintessential portrait of the rugged Old West, complete with ramshackle boardwalks, historical storefronts and a bonanza of interesting sites to explore.

A byproduct of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City sprouted into a blossoming metropolis with more than 30,000 residents during its glory days. Today, it’s recognized as the largest federally designated historical landmark in the U.S.

Scores of tourists flock here each year to take in the town. Famous sites – and there are too many to feature here – include Piper’s Opera House, the Mackay Mansion and the Bucket of Blood Saloon, not to mention the Fourth Ward School and St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church.

You literally can spend hours walking up and down the streets here, absorbing the scenery and history. Old mines still scar the surrounding hilltops, a testament to the city’s rowdy days of riches, a time when the allure of gold and silver beckoned dreamers from all around to strike their claims and try their luck.

Virginia City is an important link to a past that helped define the character of Nevada and the Old West. Through sheer determination and rugged self-reliance, ordinary people amassed great fortunes. The story of the Comstock – and of Virginia City – is the quintessential story of the American Dream.

So if you have an avid interest in history and a passion for exploring the Old West, Virginia City is definitely worth a visit. Perhaps no other place so transports you with its spellbinding scenery, its historical buildings and its rustic ambiance.