The camel’s back

Virginia City is famous for ghosts, Old West history and wild horse population. It’s also home to the Virginia City International Camel Races. The races were born out of a hoax concocted in 1957 by Bob Richards, the editor of the Territorial Enterprise. During a slow news week, the story goes, Richards made up a tale about camel races that were to occur on Labor Day. Conveniently, the event was cancelled right before races were to take place. Richards repeated the story in 1958 and 1959, and, of course, the races were cancelled at the last minute. In 1960, he ran the story again but this time there were actual entries from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Phoenix Gazette and the Indio Jaycees. Movie producer John Huston, who was in the area filming The Misfits with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, rode the Phoenix Gazette’s entry. The event attracted 8,000 people, and the residents of Virginia City—knowing a good opportunity when they saw one—made the races an annual event. The tradition continues this weekend and includes a parade, live music, parties and camel, emu and ostrich races. The events take place Sept. 10-12 at various locations in Virginia City. Tickets are $8-$30. Call 887-1294 or visit—Kelley Lang