"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unearthing the Town Where Sam Clemens Became Mark Twain

The old Nevada mining town of Virginia City, where a 20-something Samuel Clemens lived and worked as a newspaper reporter in the early 1860s, is currently the site of an archaeological dig being undertaken by the University of Nevada, according to NBC-TV affiliate KRNV.

The ultimate destination of the westward journey Clemens and his brother made, which formed the basis of the 1891 travelogue Roughing It, Virginia City had literally sprung up just a few short years before Clemens' arrival, thanks to the Comstock Lode silver strike.

A rough town of poor repute, Clemens made his journalistic bones there as a newspaper reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, who never let the truth get in the way of a good story. In fact, it was in Virginia City that he first took up his fictional pen name of "Mark Twain". He eventually left the town after getting mugged one night walking home from a bender at a friends' house.

A summer field school from the University's Department of Anthropology plans to dig for the next two weeks in what was once a particularly seedy area of the town known as the Barbary Coast. The purpose of the dig is to learn what life was like in the city during Twain's time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see you used the phrase "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" which is often attributed to Mark Twain. Do you know its origins?