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Virginia City

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Black bears used to cause havoc in Virginia City, but efforts to neutralize attractants changed that. Now, residents hope those efforts have prepared them for their next likely visitors - grizzlies.

Black bears used to cause havoc in Virginia City, but efforts to neutralize attractants changed that. Now, residents hope those efforts have prepared them for their next likely visitors - grizzlies.

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Sixty miles east of Missoula on Interstate 90, at milepost 166, a highway marker shows an exit for Gold Creek. In the absence of signs designating this as a significant spot in Montana's chronicles, motorists zip by at 80 mph without a thought of stopping.

Back in the Gold Rush days, when road agents and desperadoes ran rampant along the lonely roads of the territory, a man’s horse was often the only thing standing between safety and certain death. 

They say there are two sides to every story, and that the truth is usually found somewhere in between. That’s probably true when there are onl…

Of all the stories to come out of the lawless days of the Montana Gold Rush, perhaps none are equal to the one told by Wilber F. Sanders about an eventful night he spent among the road agents at one of their more infamous lairs.  

Perhaps one of the most interesting developments in early western Montana history was the arrival of the Bitterroot’s first independent trader.

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Bannack was the first territorial capital Montana, however, the territorial legislature moved the capital to Virginia City in 1865. It remained the capital until 1875 when it moved to Helena.

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On the lam from authorities in California and Idaho, Henry Plummer traveled to Montana intent on heading back east once winter was over. Howev…

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A few years ago, I attended A Splendid Feast at the Elling House in Virginia City. Held in the sprawling 1867 Gothic Revival home originally built and occupied by John and Mary Elling and their 10 children, the annual event is the primary fundraiser for the nonprofit Elling House Arts & Humanities Center. The stone home and its expansive yard occupy 26 city lots, providing a stunning backdrop for a festive meal.

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In the 1860s, Virginia City was a notorious collection of bushwhackers and rabble-rousers that terrorized local citizens. In an effort to thwa…

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