ABOUT US

     PRESERVING THE 

     COMSTOCK HERITAGE, 

     GUN SAFETY, AND 

     COWBOY TRADITIONS 

    601 HISTORY LESSON

    The Virginia City 601 Vigilance Committee (601) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization located in Virginia City, Nevada. It's membership includes current and retired law enforcement members, successful businessmen, and represents all five branches of the United States military services who have served in various military engagements including WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm, and current conflicts.  

     

    The 601 is a community service organization which helps preserve the Comstock heritage, cowboy traditions, Nevada's wild horses, and gun safety through grants, donations, and scholarships in the Comstock region.  The 601 hosts various fundraisers as a source of revenue to fund its generosity.  Since 2014 the 601 has donated over $50,000.00 to assist in promoting and preserving Comstock traditions and the arts for children.  Additionally, the 601 continues to support restoration projects around the Comstock area.

     

    Historically, the primary purpose of a Vigilance Committee was to maintain law and order and administer summary justice where governmental law enforcement was inadequate.

     

    In the year 1871, the "601s", a name which was borrowed from a similar Vigilance Committee which originated in San Francisco, was formed in Virginia City. This Virginia City Vigilance Committee, which was composed of honest and determined citizens, including bankers, storekeepers, miners, stockbrokers, and other citizens of all backgrounds,  decided to take the law into their own hands and combat lawlessness in Virginia City.

     

    Rather than issuing a warrant to undesirables, the group issued their own calling card, a handwritten note, with only the numbers "601" written on it, which were served by masked members of the 601s and were official notices for these persons to leave town. If such persons had not left town within 24 hours, they were severely dealt with by the members.

    While it is known that since it's creation, a whistle, bell, or siren, has sounded at exactly 12:00 noon in Virginia City (back in the day of the 601s of the 1870s to the 1880s - it was the  church bell that rang). If the whistel, bell, or siren was heard at any other time, it was the community alarm for the 601 members to gather and for the citizens and local law enforcement to vacate the streets. It was also notice for the desperados of the time, regardless of their crime, that it was time to depart.  Those failing to do so, despite the apparent warning, would quickly find themselves facing forced removal from the community, either by horse, by foot, by train, by wagon, or by casket.

    Although folklore has it that "601" means Six Feet Under, No Trial, and One Rope, the number probably more accurately reflects the 601 original members of the San Francisco Vigilance Committee. Regardless, the sight of the numbers "601" posted on a door, presented to an undesirable, or pinned to a dead body, meant that justice was about to be or had been served. As the organization was secret, little remains of their history, their real members, or the true meaning of "601", accept that their legend grew throughout Nevada, California, and the rest of the West, and crime dropped significantly during a time when it was needed.

     

    Much like similar groups throughout history, such as Robin Hood, Pancho Villa, the Knights Templar, and the Minute Men, who were given credit for activities on a grander scale then they actually accomplished, the 601s were credited with numerous lynchings and beatings. However, one of most sensational lynchings that the Virginia City 601s did accomplish, was that of Arthur Perkins from the rafters of Piper's Opera House.  Captured by the 601s for shooting down a man in cold blood at the bar of the International Hotel, Arthur was summarily identified by witnesses and convicted of murder.  Needless to say, as word got around, Virginia City became a safe community and received guests from around the word, including Thomas Edison, Samuel Clemens, and Ulysses S. Grant when he was President of the United States. Eventually, the need for the 601s dissipated and they were disbanded.  

    Almost all members of the 601 Vigilance Committee are gun owners and have been trained in the use, maintenance, and respect for firearms.  We believe in the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and our rights as citizens.  We are law abiding citizens, but, like those before us, we have "zero tolerance" for those who fail to exercise proper gun safety, adhere to the law, or seek to disrupt the rights and liberties of others.  We abhor the desecration of our rights and liberties by those persons and organizations who would seek to bring harm or injury to others, whether personal, financial, or psychological, and will stand united to "serve those we protect and protect those we serve".

    We invite you to Virginia City to enjoy our hospitality, our colorful community, and to see us in action.

    If you have never experienced our pageantry and exhibitions, you are missing out!  Imagine what your favorite cowboy hero of the past might of worn or what you've seen in one of those spaghetti Western movies made famous by Clint Eastwood, and you can't miss us.  Our members, dressed in authentic reproductions of Western attire, including period correct hats, vests, firearms, boots, and spurs, from the late 1800s, are always visible walking the historic wooden planked sidewalks of Virginia City's main street and can usually be found on any Saturday or Sunday afternoon congregating at our local favorite watering hole, the Bucket of Blood.  

    When you do visit, don't hesitate to ask any one of our members to have a photo taken with you and make your visit to Virginia City one you will always remember.  While many tourists and visitors do come to Virginia City wearing Western wear and period specific attire, you can always identify our members by our 601 membership badge, a replica of the badge worn by US Marshals of that era, which all members proudly display on their chests.

    If you do visit Virginia City frequently and would like to be considered for membership with our unique organization, just ask any of our members and they will direct you the appropriate member to talk to about our membership and sponsorship requirements. Membership is on a referral basis only.  

    THE HARD TRUTH

    99% OF ALL GUNS HAVE NEVER BEEN FIRED AT ANOTHER PERSON

    99% OF ALL GUNS GIVEN TO CRIMINALS BY THE GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN USED IN A CRIME

    99% OF LEGAL GUN OWNERS ARE RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS

    Almost all the members of the 601 Vigilance Committee are gun owners and have been trained in the use, maintenance, and respect for firearms. We believe in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and our rights as citizens. We are law abiding citizens but, like those before us, we have "zero tolerance" for those who fail to exercise proper gun safety, adhere to the law, or seek to disrupt the rights and liberties of others.  We abhore the disecretion of our rights and liberties by those persons and organizations who would seek to bring others harm or injury, whether personal, financial, or psychological, and will stand united to "serve those we protect and protect those we serve".

    We invite you to Virginia City to enjoy our hospitality and our colorful community.   

    Boom town of Virginia City, Nevada. The town sprung up out of nowhere with the discovery of the Comstock Lode, one of the richest mines in the Old West.