VIRGINIA CITY - Beyond the false-front buildings of the tourist town of Virginia City live those whose roots run deep and who are drawn together by a sense of community.
Lifetime resident Tyler Clarke remembers when the middle school housed grades one through 12 and he would play in the playground in the evenings.
"When it was dinnertime, all my dad had to do was step out on the porch and whistle," Clarke said. "I liked being able to walk from my house to the school and not have to worry about anything."
Clarke said his parents moved to Virginia City when he was 1 year old and, except for five years when he lived in Spanish Springs near Reno, he has lived his entire life there.
He said the setting appeals to his interests.
"There were a lot of things for me to do, things that interested me," he said. "I love the outdoors. I raced motorcycles. I played basketball. I played baseball."
He also spent a lot of time in the mountains.
"I grew up in a Jeep, basically driving around in the mountains so I got to know these hills like the back of my hand," Clarke said.
As a young child, he said, he was not aware of the tourism and as he grew older, it was just a part of life.
"Until I was about 12 or 13, I wasn't allowed up on C Street," he said.
"It was different having tourists in your driveway asking you questions all the time," he said. "Of course, back then it wasn't such an oddity to have someone approach someone else to ask questions. Now it's quite different."
Clarke is a police officer for the Reno Police Department and lived for five years in Reno. However, five years ago he and his wife moved back to Virginia City. This time to stay.
He said that there is a definite sense of community in Virginia City.
"There always has been and I hope for my child's sake and for my unborn child's sake, it will always be that way," he said. "You may not know all of your neighbors, but you're still there for them. Say you ran out of propane. You could go to your neighbor, even if you didn't know them by name, and they would help you out. That's just the way things are here."
Carol McCracken moved to Virginia City 10 years ago to care for elderly relatives and decided to stay.
"It's unique," she said. "It's got all the advantages and all the disadvantages of a small town."
She said the advantage is the unity.
"Everyone pulls together and helps each other out and we all watch out for each other," McCracken said.
She said the disadvantage is typical of all small towns.
"Like all small towns, everyone thinks they know your business even before you do," she said.
However, she and her husband believe it is a good place to raise their children, ages 10 and 12.
"It's very safe here," she said.
Clarke said unlike in other towns, Virginia City residents do not separate themselves by neighborhoods.
"We just say, 'I'm from Virginia City.' There's no divisions," he said. "The only divisions I see in this whole town are geographic. You have two big valleys between here and the Highlands and a long canyon between here and Mark Twain."