Though it's not obvious now, Virginia City was once a railroad camp and coal camp (one of the very early ones). The N & W Railroad encountered big problems at nearby Bull Hill when trying to dig a tunnel. Because of geological instability, the tunnel kept caving in (resulting in a number of deaths) and required two years to complete. In the meantime, mining operations rapidly developed at Virginia City and coal started to be shipped.
Virginia City became a boom town. People were moving in faster than houses could be built and some folks were even living in tents. In 1887, my great grandfather, Alexander Trent, sold timber and mineral rights to his 110 acres of land. Later, my grandfather sold the land itself to Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company. The entire area sits upon a four-foot thick seam of "Jawbone" coal. For many years mining operations were conducted at this site by Virginia Iron Coal and Coke company and its lessees. As late as the 1970's, Duke Power had a large mining operation on this site (Eastover Mining Co.). However, numerous strikes by the UMWA caused Duke to reconsider its foray into the mining business and they suspended operations. Enter, Dominion.
In the 1899 Sears catalog, shipping rates to Virginia City are listed - among about 20 other locations in Virginia. That is an indication of the quantity of goods Sears was delivering to that particular location.
Attached to this message are some photos from early mining and logging operations at Virginia City. These photos are from my family albums and can be made available for use as part of this project. (see photos below)