While we’re on the subject of Mark Twain, whose final resting place we visited last week, we also wanted to talk about how popular he was, well, everywhere. A real American legend, his time in the West cannot be understated. He spent a considerable amount of that time in Nevada, so it’s no surprise his image still lives on there to this day.
Enter the Mark Twain Casino & Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. We discovered this place after our visit to the Republic of Molossia. Virginia City is an “Old West” town. Despite being a modern place where people live and go about their lives, it does an excellent job of preserving its heritage and historical image, complete with old-style boardwalks. The Twain Saloon is rich in historical relics, too; it’s a great place to settle down after a long day, have a drink, and enjoy the sunset. Coming into town late? That’s OK–it’s open 24 hours.
The Saloon does a great job of blending historical pieces and details–like an antique cash register and chandeliers–with modern amenities. The Old West of Americana lives on here!
How do we put this? Well…there’s an old silver mine in the back of a bar in Virginia City, Nevada.
Huh, that was easier than we thought.
Virginia City is a neat old town. Found in the hills of Northern Nevada, 45 minutes from Reno, this old mining town was critical to Nevada when it achieved statehood 150 years ago, helping to give it the name “The Silver State”.
Mining was and still is a HUGE industry in Nevada. But many mines run their course and then they’re sealed, forgotten or, in this case, turned into a museum with walk-through tours.
Enter The Best and Belcher Mine. It’s the location that got our attention. You see, the mine is literally in the back of the famous Ponderosa Saloon in Virginia City. And by “the back”, we mean that you walk in, buy a ticket for the tour, and you enter the mine through what looks like a cellar door at the back of the building. Just casually going to the bar, getting a bite to eat, check out the old mine. Just another day.
We got a real kick out of it. In historical context, it actually makes a lot of sense because the Ponderosa Saloon is in a building that once housed a bank. Virginia City has a lot of cool history like this.
The 25-minute tour is really cool. The mine is well preserved and full of old mining equipment from back in the day, plus some neon-colored…uh…rocks? See the last pic in the gallery below to figure that one out. You’ll get a feel for what it was like to work in such crazy conditions all those years ago, all in the name of the invincible dollar.
We included a couple photos, but we don’t want to spoil it for you. We promise it will be worth the trip.
What makes a nation? Wars? Declarations? How about someone who wants to make his backyard a little more interesting? Meet President Kevin Baugh–or more accurately, His Excellency President Kevin Baugh–of the Republic of Molossia. President Baugh runs this small micronation from his home…because it is his home. The Republic of Molossia exists in Mr. Baugh’s yard, near Virginia City, Nevada, as well as a couple claimed places in California, totaling a little over 11 acres.
Take the video tour!
What started as a teenage project with a friend in the 1970s has since evolved into a well-known state in the micronation community. President Baugh serves as Molossia’s head of state; his wife the First Lady and his daughter the Republic’s constable. Molossia has even gained mainstream media attention recently. Is it an actual nation? Well, the United States nor the UN don’t officially recognize it, but there’s no law that says it does not or cannot exist. So yes, it is a nation. Kind of.
UW Founder & Editor, Wanderin’ Mark, greets President Kevin Baugh at the border. Mark forgot his passport, but President Baugh was nice enough to let him in for a while.
What is a Micronation?
Micronations are not “official”, UN-recognized states, but rather the product of enthusiasts who enjoy taking the concept of having their own realm to a slightly higher level while (usually) not taking it too seriously. Think of it as a hobby. Most micronations are the size of one’s property and are almost always run exclusively by self-appointed presidents, kings, prime ministers, or dictators. We actually heard about one micronation that is simply a rock that is carried around in a shoebox. Guess it’s easy enough to manage.
UWanderings has been fascinated by the micronation movement since they started to gain traction with the public. If you’ve ever been to Key West, Florida, you’ve probably heard of the Conch Republic, which is one of many emerging micronations worldwide. One of the more famous and oldest micronations is the Principality of Sealand. Founded in 1967, it sits on an abandoned World War II gun platform off the coast of England.
Since UW was based in Reno, Nevada this summer, we of course had to visit the Republic of Molossia, especially since it’s only an hour away. President Baugh, who describes himself as a “Benevolent Dictator”–complete with medals, flag sash, and military-style uniform–was very welcoming and gave us a tour of his nation’s accomplishments and infrastructure, which includes a post office, currency and stamps, railroad, customs station (manned by a mannequin who never complains), and even a space program (see video above). Although not officially recognized by the United States, President Baugh was happy to receive a Christmas card from the White House not too long ago. And in case you’re wondering, he does pay U.S. taxes, but prefers to label them Foreign Aid, referencing the road conditions in America. “They [U.S.] need all the help they can get”, he explained.
We had a great visit. President Baugh enjoys giving tours of his nation, and welcomes you to schedule one by contacting him online(please do not show up unannounced). Tours are only offered certain months of the year.
Special thanks to Kevin Baugh and his family for welcoming and hosting us!