Named after Genoa, Italy, but pronounced juh-NO-ah, unlike its Italian namesake, the Nevadan town of Genoa epitomizes the American West. Founded in 1851, Genoa is Nevada’s oldest settlement, and it has the distinction of having had Nevada’s first court, hotel, newspaper, and even its first ‘thirst parlor.’
Like nearby Virginia City, which offers similar wild west charm, Genoa, Nevada has also played host to famous personalities such as Mark Twain. Twain is said to have thrown back a drink in Genoa’s thirst parlor, an establishment which is still in operation today. In more recent times, the town served as the set for the film, Misery.
Each September, camels, ostriches, and jockeys from around the world converge on Virginia City, Nevada for the former mining town’s International Camel & Ostrich Races. We attended the quirky event last year, and it’s taking place again this weekend for the 54th time.
For a scribe who’s been in Germany for the past ten years, there isn’t much of a better way to reconnect with her American roots than to visit the wild, wild west.
That’s just what Shawn and I did exactly one year ago when we spent the day playing in Virginia City, Nevada…
Once a mining boomtown, Virginia City previously claimed the title of the richest city in the United States. This was due to the Comstock Lode silver strike that occurred there in the late 1850s. The strike transformed prospectors into millionaires, virtually overnight.
It’s said that Virginia City is the ‘birthplace’ of Mark Twain, since this is where the former Territorial Enterprise reporter Samuel Clemens had the maiden usage of his now-famous pen name. He would go on to continue using his pen name during his Tramp Abroad, which included an extended stop in Heidelberg, Germany. In an age devoid of the airplane, he sure managed to get around!
Legend also has it that Twain was mugged in Virginia City. It was later discovered that the ‘mugging’ was conducted by Twain’s friends in order to provide him writing fodder.