3. The Maynard House

The heart of Gold Hill, the Maynard House held a saloon, a boarding house, and a variety of shops. Here it is in a photograph of Gold Hill Main Street in 1900 (foreground left). The Gold Hill Hotel can be seen in the background, second house on the right.

You can see that both electricity and telephone lines have made it down "the Hill" - originally run to service the mines and mills, by the turn of the century it was available all along the main streets. Indoor plumbing may have been near non-existent, but other comforts of the modern age were being pioneered on the Comstock.

Gold Hill is well on the decline from its boom days of the 1870s, but there is still a living town. Thirty years later, things had changed dramatically.

By 1930, Gold Hill was a ghost town. You can see time can not been kind to the Maynard. The whole second story balcony is gone, and the northern addition is abandoned and decaying. The other major transformation is the return of the natural vegetation. Sagebrush is growing on the once denuded hills, and without the constant need for firewood, trees have been allowed to grow to full size.

The structure on the hill in the center background is the Gold Hill School, located by the Crown Point Ravine (the school has since disappeared, as has the ravine).

In 2010, the Maynard has been revived as a small cafe, just across from the Gold Hill Hotel. Ruins of the original structure lie just behind the modern structure, and a historical marker testifies to the importance of the site.

The hillside behind the Maynard is grasses and sagebrush now, but at the turn of the century, it was covered with little homes and boarding houses. The plateau in the hillside halfway up is the V&T Railroad, which used to connect Virginia City to Reno, and which now runs as a tourist line between Virginia City and Carson City.

My characters Wes and Nell grew up on High Street, which used to run along the hillside, sandwiched between the bustle of the Maynard House and the noise of the train tracks. Little wonder Wes and his mother moved south to the comparative suburbs of Crown Point.

4. The Divide

A shot up the Divide’s infamous dead man’s curve, where Connor and Charlie meet for the first time. In the early days of Gold Hill, bandits liked to attack stagecoaches as they came around the turn, and later drivers sometimes took the turn too fast and crashed right onto the rail line below. Today the view of Gold Canyon from the top of the grade is breathtaking, but only if you’re in an SUV tall enough to see over the very welcome guard-rails.

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Jane Senese 2011. All rights reserved.