Saint Mary’s In The Mountains is the first Catholic Church in Nevada and was built by Father Hugh Gallagher in Virginia City in 1860. A wooden edifice, it collapsed in heavy winds the first winter.
The first brick church was built on the current site in 1868, under the direction of Father Patrick Manogue, only to survive a few years before burning along with the majority of Virginia City in the “Great Fire” of October 1875. The church interior was gutted, although some of the fixtures and statues were saved from the fire.
This was the height of the “Big Bonanza” on the Comstock Lode, and St. Mary’s was re-built in 1876 in a manner even grander then before. Housed in the belfry is a 2,264 lb. bell with a 100 lb. clapper. This magnificent bell survived the fire and it is known to ring on occasion to this day.
© James Q. Eddy Jr.