Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bodie Ghost Town 7.5.08

Bodie is a California gold mining ghost town, the west’s most authentic & best preserved ghost town. There are about 70 structures (only 5% of the original) still standing. Bodie in it’s heyday rivaled Sacramento for the 3rd largest city in California. There were about 10,000 people in 1879 when the big gold & silver mines were at their peak. Gold was discovered here in 1859 and over the years, gave up $35 million of gold & silver. But once production plummeted, so did the population, eventually becoming abandoned. This was a rough town, there were killings almost daily fueled, I’m sure by the towns 65 saloons! For me, the history of the town was fascinating, the people, their stories, how they used their resources, etc. But I was not impressed with the buildings. It seemed to me someone should clean this place up!! The buildings/houses were filled with original artifacts, covered in dust , left as if they had been ‘frozen in time’. Peering through the dusty windows we saw stocked stores,
a schoolhouse with books, desks, lunch boxes,
workshops filled with tools
& houses filled with furniture, the bank with it's safe
& the church with all the pews & organ.
Michael loved this stuff, said he must have been a cowboy in a previous life. He loved identifying the Hellman’s mayonnaise bottle, Clorox bottle, Del Monte plums, mail order catalogs, etc.
I was bit of a skeptic that everything was just ‘left’ here! What about looting? Vandalism? All those years and everything was STILL here! Ranger after Ranger assured me that they take great pains to ensure items are actually from the area & they have people wanting to donate stuff all the time and will not accept it if they can’t prove it was from Bodie. Besides, I’m told…it was the time of the depression and it was more expensive to move it out then to buy new. And finally, the previous owners (before the State of California) hired guards to protect it. I’m still not buying it, but it is fascinating. The area is kept in a state of ‘arrested decay’ which just means that no improvements are made but repairs are completed. I’d love to read more of the stories and one or our neighboring campers recommended a book called “Soiled Doves” about the ‘women of the night’ and their story.

We spent nearly the entire day there – watched a movie about the place & took a Ranger guided tour of the area as well. We left there & found a geocache on our way back to camp, rinsed off the dust & grime from the day, & prepared for the evening.

There is a legendary ‘Bodie Curse’ that basically states that if you remove anything from Bodie, you will have bad luck from that time on. Inside the museum, there is letter after letter from people sending back items they removed – glass, rocks, railroad ties, etc with specific details of the horrors they had experienced after they left! Just to be sure, we picked every last rock out of our boots…we don’t need any bad luck following us!! Haha…

More to follow!


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