What can I say about Bodie, California? When you are stuck in civilization this little tourist trap is almost worth the $7.00 entrance fee. I kid, this destination was a great little ghost town. While Donn sat in the van and waited,(travelers budget) I raced through the town snapping shots and checking out the buildings. We got a late start about 4:55 and the park closed at 6:00 pm I did not take the official tour, so I did a little research after the fact.
Bodie was a mining camp with a small group of prospectors, one of them being the namesake W.S. Bodey. In 1859 there was one of the richest gold strikes in Bodie Hills. This same year W.S. Bodey froze to death returning with supplies. This town was not for the weak at heart the seasons were extreme, and the resources were limited. Though prospectors, and fortune seekers came to find their riches, some say this little “Boomtown” never really boomed. The rumors of riches in Nevada drew them to “greener pastures”.
When the Bunker Hill Mine(Standard Mining Company) struck it big in the mid-1870’s it brought a wave of more people. By 1879 there were about 8,000 people, and 2,000 buildings in Bodie. At its peak, Bodie had a mile long main street filled with saloons, a red-light district, and a Chinatown. It was filled with bandits, prostitutes, dreamers.
There was even a narrow gauge railroad built, called the Bodie Railway & Lumber Company. With more promising booms in Nevada, Utah, and Montana the miners moved out and the town became more family-oriented community.
With the invention of the cyanide process came another wave, but by 1910 the population had dropped to 698.
By 1915 Bodie had been labeled as a “Ghosttown” and by 1920 the population was at only 120. A fire in 1932 destroyed most of the town, only 10% still stands, It remains in a ” state of “arrested decay”. I guess this means it was left the way the last residents left it. In 1942 the end came, with the closing of the mine and the postoffice.
Just being on these deserted streets seemed like I was getting a glimpse of someones life gone by. Oh, and getting stalked by the FEDS, because the park was CLOSED and they were chasing me OUT! Officers in pick-ups with bull horns, sneaky ones on foot, a ranger on a rascal, and radio’s going off everywhere!