BODIE – A classic ghost town

Bodie, CA

Bodie, CA

Bodie was a thriving mining town in the late 1800’s.  Once home to 65 saloons and two churches, it was a bustling community of families, drunks, thieves, criminals, hard-working miners, gun slingers, prostitutes, and shop owners.

A home in Bodie, CA

A home in Bodie, CA

Mixed in with a one-armed Sheriff, a school teacher, two preachers, a blacksmith, a mining company, gold fever, cold winters and hot summers, and you have a partial picture of this one-time booming town.

Shell gas station

Shell gas station

Only a portion of the town remains and it was designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962

Now completely deserted, with only Park Rangers as caretakers, the town sits in a state of “arrested decay”. 

Wagon Wheel

Wagon Wheel

You are able to walk through the remnants of this once rambunctious place, take pictures to your heart’s content, peek through windows, go inside a few buildings, and visit the small museum.  There is also a guided tour through the mining operation available for just $5/person.

“Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. ” – California Department of Parks and Recreation

There are still around 100 buildings standing, so there is much to see.  Many of the rooms look exactly as they did back when the last families abandoned them.

Methodist Church

Methodist Church

The Methodist Church is one of the first buildings you come to after walking from the parking lot.  According to history, there were originally no churches in town, but both the Methodists and Catholics opened their church doors within a few days of each other and remained the only houses of worship in Bodie.

They were gravely outnumbered by brothels, saloons, opium dens and other savory means of adult entertainment.

Dechambeau Hotel and I.O.O.F. Building

Dechambeau Hotel and I.O.O.F. Building

Also used as a meeting hall and where services were held prior to the two churches being built.

Hoover House

Hoover House

Theodore Hoover was the manager of the Standard Mill and lived here with his wife, Mildred.  He was the brother of Herbert Hoover, who visited Brodie before he went on to become the President of the United States.

Inside the Bodie School

Inside the Bodie School

The original school was burned down by one of the student after a disagreement with the teacher and a larger school replaced it.  This picture was taken through a glass window, so it is not as sharp as I would like.  You get the impression that the children are at recess and just left everything behind.

James Stuart Cain's Home

James Stuart Cain’s Home

Mr. Cain became one of the wealthiest men in town.  Arriving in Bodie at the ripe old age of 25, he was a land owner, as well as in the business of delivering much-needed lumber to Bodie.  Lumber was used in the construction of the mines, as building material for the town, to heat the homes and to fuel the boilers used to process the ore.

Roof with tin cans

Roof with tin cans

The area was remote, materials were in high demand, and nothing could be wasted.  Tin cans when empty were cut open, flattened and used as building siding, or to help seal up a leaking roof.

Tin cans used on the side of a building

Tin cans used on the side of a building

There really were some colorful characters living in Bodie.  According to Bodie.com, here are a few of note:

Mike  McGowan – ‘Bad Man’, came from Virginia City. Would bite off  ears, noses, thumbs.

Dan  McMillan – One-armed sheriff and manager of the Bodie baseball  team.

Alex  Nixon  – Elected as first President of the Miners’ Union, Jan. 15,  1878. Shot and killed in a saloon gun fight.

There is also a small museum in town that houses memorabilia.  It is free to go through and I wish we would have had more time, as I only spent a few minutes inside.

Inside Bodie Museum

Inside Bodie Museum

It was time for our afternoon tour through the Standard Stamp Mill, where the ore was processed.  The operation was complex, dangerous, loud and toxic.  For those that are interested in more information about hard rock mining, please click here.

Standard Stamp Mill

Standard Stamp Mill

Machine shop for stamp mill

Machine shop for stamp mill

Inside stamp mill

Inside stamp mill

Another tidbit of history occurred here.  Since lumber was so scarce and expensive to get delivered to Bodie, in 1892, Thomas H. Leggett convinced J.S Cain to invest in his idea of bringing electric power to town.  Mr. Cain agreed, and Bodie became the first town to operate an electric stamp mill using long distance power lines.

It is rumored that an occasional ghost can be seen here. We ran out of time before we could visit the cemetery. Maybe just as well???

I would love to know what you think of Bodie. Please leave me a comment below.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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6 Responses to BODIE – A classic ghost town

  1. I love places like this and you’ve really captured the atmosphere of the place, nice work!

    Like

  2. Wondernuts says:

    Is that up north in goldrush country?

    I used to live up there. But, if Bodie is up there, I’ve never been. Interestingly, I came across this ghost town website. They said the town I used to live in was semi-ghost town. Now how is that even possible if people live there? Living people. not ghosts. =)

    Like

    • Bodie is south of where I traditionally think of as the goldrush area of California. This is just north of Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake in the Eastern part of the state. No, I don’t think that living people count as ghosts either, LOL.

      Like

  3. Brenda Thompson says:

    Great description, history and beautiful pictures.

    Like

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