Filed Under Virginia City

Ten Pin Alley Saloon

Virginia City Historic District

Virginia City grew up almost overnight after William Fairweather found color in Alder Creek. Miners rushed to the rich diggings, leaving Bannack, Montana’s first major gold camp, practically a ghost town. Among the Bannack merchants to follow their customers to Virginia City was J. E. McClurg, who opened a mercantile here with partner James Ptorney. The false-front Greek Revival style building later accommodated other tenants, including Meyer and Koerner’s Ten Pin Alley Saloon (circa 1873-75). A popular nineteenth-century male sport, bowling was not the respectable pastime it later became. Bowling was originally played with nine pins; entrepreneurs added the final pin to circumvent laws banning the game, and ten pin bowling was born. In 1899, Wells Fargo & Co., originally located a few doors east, moved to this location. In the turbulent 1860s and 1870s, the famous stage company provided an essential link to the outside world, but by 1899 rail travel had almost displaced the stagecoach. The last stage departed in 1910 and the building was abandoned until restoration in 1945 by Charles Bovey.


Ten Pin Alley Saloon, Virginia City
Ten Pin Alley Saloon, Virginia City View looking south on Wallace Street. Ten Pin Alley Saloon in center with E. L. Smith Store on left. Source: National Historic Landmark nomination form for Viriginia City. From an inventory report compiled by Olaf Hagen, U.S. Forest Service Region 2, 1937. On file at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office and the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D. C. Creator: W. R. Rankin, photographer Date: Sept 1937
Ten Pin Alley Saloon
Ten Pin Alley Saloon View looking south at building facade Source: Courtesy of Montana Heritage Commission Creator: Kate Steeley, Montana Heritage Commission Date: Oct 2019
Looking southwest, at south side of Wallace Street, Virginia City, MT.
Looking southwest, at south side of Wallace Street, Virginia City, MT. Looking southwest, at south side of Wallace Street, Virginia City, MT. Ten Pin Alley store is four doors to the right of Armstrong and Johnson store. Source: PAc 956-310. Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT. Creator: Unknown photographer Date: ca. 1875


308 West Wallace Street, Virginia City, Montana | Public


Montana National Register Sign Program, “Ten Pin Alley Saloon,” Historic Montana, accessed June 18, 2024,