Virginia City, MT is preparing for the 2024 tourist season.

Virginia City is one of our favorite old-time Western towns in Montana. It's not technically a ghost town. Between 150 and 300 residents call it home for at least part of the year, but almost all of the attractions in the historic mining town are closed in the winter months.

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
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The town comes alive for the summer on May 24th, with festivities and fun.

According to an event post from the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce, the Memorial Day Weekend opening of the popular destination kicks off at 1:30 PM on Saturday, May 24 with a downtown parade. Other events include a horseback poker ride and duck races.

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Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
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Umm, what's a duck race?

For those unfamiliar with duck races, they're not what they sound like. It's not a bunch of ducks waddling slowly down a speedway to the finish line. Duck races are where people purchase numbered rubber ducks (for a nominal fee) and at the designated time, all of the ducks are dumped into Alder Creek.

Whichever duck floats to the finish line first is the winner, and whoever holds the winning duck number gets the jackpot. The Duck Race at Virginia City is a scholarship fundraiser for students in Madison County.

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Old-timey items line a store shelf at the general store. Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
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Montana history buffs love Virginia City

Virginia City was once the fastest-growing community in Montana when gold was discovered. It was a major transportation hub and at one time nearly 5,000 residents called Virginia City home. It was Montana's territorial capitol before Helena was chosen and in 1868 the town had 1,200 buildings. There are less than 300 today; many are well-preserved examples of shops, saloons, and homes from the period.

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Montana.gov notes, "Virginia City is considered the best-preserved example of the many placer mining camps that flourished during the 1860s throughout the Rocky Mountain West. It provides an exceptional sample of commercial architecture of the mid-nineteenth century."

Virginia City, Montana, Then And Now

Virginia City, Montana, Then And Now

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