DARK TOURISM: A look inside one of America’s ghost towns

Take a look inside one of America’s boom-town-turned-ghost-town: Virginia City, Nevada.


Traveling out of town is always an exciting feeling. New places, unfamiliar sights, smells and sometimes even cultures are some notable reasons for sightseeing. 

However, even regular tourist attractions such as the Hollywood sign, Disneyland or Universal Studios could get tiring after a while. This is where dark tourism comes in, where areas usually associated with death and tragedy are less popular with the average traveler but are significant tourist hotspots for the brave. The grandeur of the Cincinnati Chapel, while an amazing feat of architecture, engineering and artistry, doesn’t have the subtle feeling of edge and excitement that dark tourism holds. The artistry in the Louvre can’t hold a candle to the rich and dark history of the Paris underground catacombs. 

There is a certain specialty in these locations that should hold a special spot in every travel plan. 

Such places are ghost towns scattered all across the United States

While it’s not as exciting as dark tourism spots such as Hiroshima in Japan, or even more locally to LA, the Museum of Death in Hollywood, Virginia City and other local ghost towns could serve as someone’s stepping stone from regular tourism to dark tourism. 

Ghost towns are considerably tame compared to other dark tourism spots, yet most still hold that dark curiosity that other areas have. They are also much easier to access and smaller both in size and the “death and tragedy” aspect. 

One of these towns is Virginia City, in Nevada. 

Once a bustling boom town, Virginia City in Nevada now caters to tourists instead of miners. It now advertises itself as a ghost town that welcomes all tourists. 

Just down south from Reno and on the 341, Virginia City is a quiet town full of alcohol and history. The main street looks like it’s straight out of a Wild West set in Universal Studios’ back lot. It truly is a blast to the past as you walk under the saloon signs or look around the museums. 

Events are always held in saloons, bars and restaurants. Souvenirs are everywhere in shops and museums. Vendors are always trying to sell authentic cowboy attire. 

However, that’s only the surface of Virginia City. What lies under the surface is actually full of dark history and death. 

On October 1875, a large fire destroyed most of the town. One of the few buildings that survived that fire and continue to stand today is the Washoe Club. 

Featured in Travel Channel’s longest-running ghost-hunting show, “Ghost Adventures,” many times, the Washoe Club advertises itself as one of the most haunted areas in the town. 

It truly embraces the “haunted” look, as the bar not only serves beverages, but tours of the building, going in-depth behind the history of the building, the town and ghosts. 

Besides ghosts, the Washoe club also features rare items such as an authentic, full diamond-dust mirror, a set of stairs built without supports that was featured in Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not, and multiple items from “Ghost Adventures.”