Learning on the Go – The Wild West

We decided to break up our Yellowstone visit with a taste of the old west. So for our second day we planned to take a side trip to Virginia and Nevada City, some old mining towns. When I was younger my family had taken a mini vacation one year to see them and we had such a great time. So I thought it would be fun to take my own family back as well.

We started out in the morning as it was a good drive to get there. On the way we were noticing a lake that had a whole bunch of random tree tops pointing up through the water. We soon learned from a few signs that it was called Earthquake lake. We decided to stop at the visitors center for a little bit to learn more about it. (I love the freedom to just stop and enjoy whatever we come across.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe watched a movie about this historic 7.5 earthquake that was also known as the night of terror. A huge mountain slid down at 100 mph, and brought down 80 million tons of rocks. It blocked the Madison River and which started backing up and flooding the area which is now Earthquake lake.  Twenty eight people died by either being crushed by the rocks, drowning or were blown away by the 100 mph winds when the mountain slid. It was crazy the various things that happened and the damage that occurred. We ended up staying a couple of hours at this visitor center where the kids did their Junior Geologist program and earned a pin. I asked Mirian what she learned from the movie and her reply was “I learned about a whole bunch of scary, horrible things that I hope never happen to me.”  The movie was quite dramatic.

After that we hurried quickly to Nevada City where we found out that it closes early at 6pm, which only gave us a few hours to do all that we had planned.

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We first started off with a train ride from Virginia City to Nevada City as we learned about the local history of the mining town, and what went on there in the 1800’s. It was a fun ride and we also got a returning ride when we were finished for the evening.

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Our next stop was the Gold Mine stop, where we learned about how they mined in the area, as well as learning how they panned for gold. We were able to get our own buckets of dirt straight from the current working mines, learned the technique and tried our hand at it. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of small garnets that we collected but no gold to be found. We were running out of time, so we brought back our own dirt to keep panning at home later.

We then made our way to Nevada City to see the old buildings and ruins of an old town in the 1800’s.  We started off in the Music Hall which holds a whole bunch of old music organs. We decided to try this one out. It was quite loud and startled the kids, but it was fun to see the different pipes going and the keys that moved themselves.

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We were then off to the Mercantile. I love imagining what it would have been like going into these old stores that had everything you needed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We enjoyed a few of the homes. This was one of the fancier homes.

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This was a look at some of the streets.

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One of my other favorite places in these old time buildings are the one room school houses. I just like to imagine what it would be like to teach in one. I also just love the fact that there were ages of all kinds of students in one place.  It rings true to my own homeschooling experience.

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This is the home Beau and I decided would have been ours.  Simple but a little more artistic in nature than some of the others.

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Here is a few of the other buildings we were able to look at and enjoy as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now this is the thing that I remembered as a child when I came to visit. A two story outhouse. It didn’t make much sense to me, and still doesn’t, based on how out houses work. Since you’re in the air with no hole in the ground where does everything go? Maybe plumbing got started here? I sure hope so.

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This was also one of my first looks at a sod roof home.

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Now we weren’t able to visit Nevada City on the weekend. But supposedly on the weekends throughout the summer it’s a living history museum with people dressed up in the buildings. They also have a different dramatization of an event that happened there going on as well.  I think that would have been a lot of fun for the kids to experience. Maybe another time!

There is only one other thing that made the whole Wild West day complete.

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Yep! Your own wild west picture. We had a great time getting this taken and they all loved getting to dress up in all the fancy clothes. Everyone needs to get one of these taken in their lifetime.

Our next post will finish with our last day in Yellowstone.

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