Scrap Book
Mark Twain
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Roughing It 1860-1864
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Virginia City

“The ‘city’ of Virginia roosted royally midway up the steep side of Mount Davidson, seven thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea, and in the clear Nevada atmosphere was visible from a distance of fifty miles...

The mountain side was so steep that the entire town had a slant to it like a roof. Each street was a terrace, and from each to the next street below the descent was forty or fifty feet. The fronts of the houses were level with the street they faced, but their rear first floors were propped on lofty stilts; a man could stand at a rear first floor window of a C street house and look down the chimneys of the row of houses below him facing D street. It was a laborious climb, in that thin atmosphere, to ascend from D to A street, and you were panting and out of breath when you got there; but you could turn around and go down again like a house a-fire—so to speak. The atmosphere was so rarified, on account of the great altitude, that one’s blood lay near the surface always, and the scratch of a pin was a disaster worth worrying about, for the chances were that a grievous erysipelas would ensue. But to offset this, the thin atmosphere seemed to carry healing to gunshot wounds, and therefore, to simply shoot your adversary through both lungs was a thing not likely to afford you any permanent satisfaction, for he would be nearly certain to be around looking for you within the month, and not with an opera glass, either.”—Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872

Virginia City, NV
Virginia City, NV
Courtesy Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley
Nevada State Seal, designed by Orion Clemens
Nevada State Seal,
designed by Orion Clemens

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project,
Bancroft Library, Berkeley
Orion Clemens
Orion Clemens
Courtesy of The Nevada
Historical Society
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Nevada Historical Society
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“Heading West”