Get Ghosted This Hauntober: Virginia City, Nevada, Lets Spooks Fly During Monthlong Celebration
VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (DRAFT) – Many call it the most haunted town in the U.S. — perhaps even on the planet — but skeptics and believers alike can agree: Virginia City’s storied boom-and-bust mining town history, which took root way back in 1859, is prime paranormal fodder. So, in celebration, the town transforms into a portal to the supernatural throughout the entire month of October, dubbed, “Hauntober.”
For those who must “see it to believe it,” Virginia City has that covered. Ready to come face to phenomenon with a truly spirited team? Here are just a few of the apparitions you might encounter during a Hauntober visit to Virginia City.
Meet a Few ‘Spirit’ Guides:
Trade Rumors with Rosie at the Silver Queen Hotel
The ghost story: Built in 1876, the Silver Queen Hotel has a history of paranormal activity — especially in room 11 (where Rosie is rumored to have lost her life in the bathtub) and room 13. Guests report hearing loud steps, rattling doorknobs, and the sight of Rosie herself hovering atop a long staircase.
Facts for the skeptics among us: Pull up a barstool and admire the “Silver Queen,” a 15-foot-tall portrait of a woman enrobed in a dress embedded with 3,261 silver dollars — a nod to the depth in feet of the silver mining town’s deepest shaft.
Get ‘Schooled’ by Miss Suzzie at the Historic Fourth Ward School
The ghost story: At the Fourth Ward School, which was built in 1875, the spirit of former teacher Miss Suzzie has allegedly been spotted searching the grounds for her students. Other activities include the sound of children running on the stairs and the sight of a young student waving from a window.
Facts for the skeptics among us: The school — a four-story, Victorian Era, Second Empire-architectural style building — is the literal model for Disneyland Paris’ version of the Haunted Mansion, called Phantom Manor.
Meet the Missus at the Mackay Mansion
The ghost story: Comstock Millionaire John Mackay built the Mackay Mansion in 1859 and raised his family there. Apparently, his wife never left. Mrs. Mackay reportedly wanders the halls enshrouded in Victorian accoutrements and sometimes lounges in the living room.
Facts for the skeptics among us: William Randolph Hearst’s father, George Hearst, built the mansion and later sold it to John Mackay, who at the time was the richest man to come out of the Comstock with over $1 million in assets.
Get a Whiff of William at the Gold Hill Hotel
The ghost story: In 1869, dozens of miners were tragically killed in a mine adjacent to the Gold Hill Hotel, yet their bodies were never recovered. The Miner’s Cabin is rumored to be the most haunted site on the property, but many visitors prefer a ghostly encounter with William: a tobacco-smoking spirit whose scent wafts and wanders in Room 5.
Facts for the skeptics among us: The Gold Hill Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in the Silver State, and visitors can reserve one of the original 1861 rooms or stay in the property’s more modern digs.
Lounge with Lena at the Washoe Club & Haunted Museum
The ghost story: If you’re spooked out by apparitions, don’t look up — the ghost of a woman named Lena has been seen at the Washoe Club, floating atop the longest freestanding spiral staircase ever built.
Facts for the skeptics among us: Ghost Adventures’ own Zak Bagans got his start here, filming his first ghost-hunting documentary in 2007. Oh yeah, and there’s a literal crypt on site. Of COURSE there’s a crypt on site…
Convinced yet? That’s not a requirement, though a fascination with phantasmic fun does make for a hallowed Hauntober experience. Here’s a complete list of Hauntober events and locations:
Happening All Month Long
Haunted Adventure Pass: Spooky adventures in Virginia City start at the Visitors Center, where visitors can get their Haunted Adventure Pass for discounted access to Virginia City’s Hauntober attractions. The pass includes a Bats in the Belfry Ghost Tour, access to the Haunted Washoe Club Museum and a tour of Piper’s Opera House. Purchase passes at the Visitors Center, 86 South C Street. Reservations for the Bats in the Belfry must be made in advance by calling 775-815-1050. Washoe Club tours fill up quickly, so get here early to reserve your spot.
Bats in the Belfry Guided Ghost Tours: If you want to know where the most haunted locations are in Virginia City, this is the tour for you. Take a walk around this historically haunted town and learn about the lively souls that still occupy it today. Book a reservation.
Tours at Piper’s Opera House, select days: Historic Piper’s Opera House has its fair share of paranormal tales over the years. Take a guided tour and hear the stories along with the history of this famous opera house. Choose a daytime or a special nighttime paranormal tour. Take your pick of tour dates; tickets are $5 per person.
Haunted Virginia City Escape Room & Haunted Ghost Town – Thrill-seekers can test their luck at the Haunted Virginia City Escape Room, one of the most challenging in the area. For more thrills, take a stroll, or maybe run, through the Haunted Ghost Town. This walk-through attraction is sure to entertain. The Virginia City Escape Room must be booked online in advance. The Haunted Ghost Town is just $5 per person paid onsite.
Mackay Mansion Paranormal Tours – Investigate one of the town’s most haunted locations, the Mackay Mansion, with special paranormal tours and a haunted house. Reserve in advance online or by calling 775-847-0156.
Washoe Club Haunted Tours – Featured multiple times on “Ghost Adventures,” The Washoe Club and Haunted Museum offers daily ghost tours (times vary). Private, overnight investigations can also be booked. Details.
Plus, all month long, be on the lookout for the Haunted Horseless Carriages roaming throughout the town on select nights.
Voices of the Past, Oct. 7 & 8, 14 & 15 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day: Head to the spookiest of all places, the Silver Terrace Cemeteries, for Voices from the Past. Funtime Theater presents this living tour where attendees can “talk to the dead” as actors portray real 19th century Comstockers who lived and died in Virginia City. Tickets are $15 for adults, children under 12 and seniors are $10. Purchase tickets in advance here.
The Godmonster of Indian Flats 50th Anniversary Celebration, Oct. 13-15: This campy, cult classic was filmed in Virginia City and the American Flats, and St. Mary’s Art Center is celebrating the 50th anniversary with a unique exhibition, film showings, and other festivities. Learn more online.
V&T Railroad Pumpkin Patch Train, Oct. 14 & 15 and 20-22: A pumpkin patch is fall’s ultimate playground for kids, so why not make an adventure of it with a train ride to the Gold Hill Pumpkin Patch? Purchase train tickets.
Halloween Bingo at Piper’s Opera House, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.: Try your luck at Piper’s Opera House monthly bingo night, appropriately themed for the Hauntober month. Buy-in for five games is $20, benefitting the ongoing restoration of Piper’s.
Spirits Made Me Do It, Oct. 28, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Embark on a fun and tasty tour through town. This is a 21+ event. Details.
Haunted Stories and Spirits at the Gold Hill Hotel, Oct. 29 at 5 pm.: Come learn about Nevada’s oldest operating hotel and its storied past. Tickets are $40, reserve online in advance.
Electric Halloween Steam Train of Lights, Oct. 27-31: Get in the haunted spirit with a ride on this spooky, 40-minute round-trip route that comes alive underneath the dark skies with brilliant LED lighting. Tickets and details.
Piper’s Opera House Statehood Masquerade Ball, Oct. 27: Dress in your best 1860s formal wear for the Statehood Masquerade Ball. Tickets and details.
Mackay Mansion Haunted House: Mackay Coven Oct. 27-31: Be immersed in this haunted house, where witches have been known to disappear to. After their arrival, townspeople started vanishing. Reservations required: Details.
Haunted Hills, Mills and Depots, Oct. 27 & 28: Join Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters for two nights of paranormal investigations through some of the Comstock’s most haunted locations. Benefitting the Comstock Foundation. Details.
St. Mary’s Art Center Ghost Investigation and Sleepover, Oct. 27 – 30: Originally built as a hospital for the Comstock miners, then abandoned for many years. Spend the evening with ghost investigative team, W.I.G.S. (Women Investigating Ghost Sightings) and explore the possibility of connecting with those who have walked the halls in the past. Details.
Fourth Ward School Museum’s Victorian All Hallow’s Eve Ball, Oct. 28: Explore this historic building on the eve of Halloween with this adults-only evening, including music and dancing, a costume contest, flashlight tours, tarot readings, light snacks and drinks. Tickets.
Hauntober Parade, Oct. 31, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Goblins of all ages dressed to scare are invited to participate in the Hauntober Parade on Halloween night. Adults, kids and even pets are encouraged to wear a costume and join in the parade and participate in the costume contest. Check-in and costume contest starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Virginia City Jerky Company. The parade begins at 5 p.m.
Virginia City Cemetery, Oct. 31, 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: On Halloween, the gates to the old Silver Terrace Cemetery stay open for visitors to experience a once-a-year stroll past dusk. Here, souls rest in peace, but their stories live forever. Take a self-guided tour with the downloadable audio tour, available online. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Comstock Cemetery Foundation. Learn more about Virginia City cemeteries.
Hauntober Safe Trick-or-Treating, Oct. 31, 6 to 8 p.m.: Stick around after the parade for safe trick-or-treating at the many shops along the boardwalk.
For the ultimate thrill-seekers, there’s no more complete way to do it than stay the night in one of Virginia City’s haunted hotels. Explore all lodging options, or choose from among a few recommendations:
- Gold Hill Hotel– Nevada’s oldest operating hotel with abounding stories of the ghosts of children running the halls and the scent of roses that appears randomly when a spirit is said to be present.
- Silver Queen Hotel – Allegedly haunted by one or more of the working women who did business in the hotel, this establishment was built in 1876 and is considered one of the most haunted locations in town. The hotel offers paranormal investigations for an additional fee.
- St. Mary’s Art Center – Originally built in 1875 as Virginia City’s hospital, this majestic building offers 16 guest rooms for artists retreats, or anyone looking to stay in Virginia City. Paranormal investigations are offered monthly or can be booked as a private tour and the building is reported to have very active paranormal spirits.
- Tahoe House Hotel – Dating back to 1859, this property offers plenty of tales of paranormal encounters from guests over the years. Renovated in 2020, it features five rooms with balconies overlooking C Street, along with a lobby bar, great room and courtyard.
About Virginia City, Nevada:
A short 45-minute drive from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport takes visitors to one of the largest historic districts in the United States – Virginia City, Nevada. Come experience this mining “boomtown” as it was in the 1800s. Step back in time while visiting the numerous historic buildings, saloons, churches and museums or take a mine tour or even ride a real steam train. The Comstock Adventure Passes offer the best value with discounted attraction packages. For lodging, event calendar, or Comstock Adventure Passes, visit online or call 775-847-7500. The Visitor Information Center is located at 86 South C Street, Virginia City.