Every now and then I may find that my journey take me, well, out of this world and into the paranormal. Breeah and I took our second-ever road trip together out to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and stayed at the nearby Cashtown Inn – a hotel profiled by a particularly notable 2008 episode of Ghost Hunters. The story of that little journey was essentially the first trip report on the WeekendRoady blog, back in the summer of 2011.
Three years later, I ventured to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV on the second longest day trip I’ve ever undertaken (approx. 500 miles in one day there and back). My boss at the time (and I) rewarded one of our longtime faithful employees with a ghost tour – though we didn’t come back with any spirits.
While I have a keen interest in the paranormal, I also have a healthy bit of skepticism to balance out the optimism. I do enjoy the idea of the unknown and as a natural explorer, I like to consider all possibilities. I’m also a bit of a history and landmark buff, so how natural that on a recent trip to the Reno-Tahoe area, I thought it would be interesting to step into Ghost Adventures territory (of Travel Channel fame) and take in Virginia City and the Washoe Club – the site of the documentary (and first episode) that started it all.
Virginia City is an interesting old boom town in its own right, and worth the visit for ghost hunters, history buffs and casual – but curious – tourists alike. Nestled in the hills outside of Reno, the windy, switch-backed roads will lead you right into what was once one of the richest places on Earth as far as mineral deposits go. Miners here were raking in the dough back when this place was bustling in the later parts of the 19th century. Today there are mansions, saloons, opera houses and other places that were emblematic of life in the Nevada desert at that time.
The Old Washoe Club (its official name) brought in some of the biggest names to visit Virginia City over the years, and is now registered as part of the historic district of Virginia City (and therefore is afforded some protection by the National Register of Historic Places). Its notoriety for its ghostly features truthfully began in 2007 when the Ghost Adventures crew premiered their documentary on the Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S. The documentary was later picked up as a series by the Travel Channel and is one of the most popular shows on the network and arguably the most successful paranormal TV show on anywhere. The initial documentary featured a scene in the Washoe Club where a apparition appears to walk across the floor for a mind-boggling seven seconds (skip to 19:10 of the video in this link to watch for yourself).
Carl Buehler, who appeared on a 2016 Ghost Adventures episode (the show has visited Virginia City four times in the series run so far), was our guide for the tour. Say what you will of true believers, and Buehler is one through and through, he is nothing if not one of the most passionate and charismatic tour guides I’ve ever seen. Buehler’s room-by-room breakdown was both parts history and supernatural and every part entertaining. Regardless of your stance on ghosts, stomping around in this huge, historic old building envisioning the lifestyles of the dusty old west is worth every bit of your eight bucks.
In the end, we didn’t see anything. Breeah and I giggled a bit at the stories some of the others on the tour, but its really not for me to say whats real or fake in the paranormal world, as there is truly no documented way to “officially” research the topic. To me, its all based on personal experiences, and I encourage you to experience the Washoe Club or any other nearby haunted venue and see what you find. You may walk away with an interesting tale – or at least a little bit of history or pop culture trivia.
This is my kind of weekend roady. The southwestern U.S. has no shortage of such ghost towns. My favorite is in Modena, Utah. No formal tours exist there, but if you’re brave enough to trust the infrastructure you can climb a rickety staircase inside the Lund Hotel. Looks like Old Washoe is only about an 11 hr drive from me. I also checked the website. For a mere $5,000 donation toward the restoration of the building, I can get a Gold Membership. (also includes $1 off beverages sold in the saloon. Score!). Nice write-up and I admit the featured YouTube video with 7-second apparition did spook me just a smidge.
Good stuff as always Tyson. I’m loving the southwest for the first (extended) period of time in my life. Hasn’t ventured out to these parts in my first 29 years, but have hit up New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and other neighboring areas multiple times since moving out to Oregon. I can see why the Ghost Adventures show bases so much of its material out there.