Bodie ghost town is high in the mountains along highway 270, in summer it can be incredibly hot and during the winter deep snow can often make the road impassable. Unsurprisingly, Bodie is supposed to be haunted and has a curse, so woe-betide you if you take so much as a nail away with you!
W S Bodey & 3 other prospectors stumbled across what was to become one of the richest gold strikes in California in 1859. Bodey, never lived to see the town named after him as he froze to death during a blizzard on his way to collect supplies in November.
Only a handful of miners and prospectors worked in Bodie as there were much richer strikes at Aurora and Virginia City, but a mine collapse in 1877 exposed a rich vein of gold and silver and the rush was on.
By the early 1880’s the population of Bodie had reached 7,000, with even more during the summer. With 30 different mining companies and 159 stamps, continually working it would’ve been incredibly noisy.
During the boom years there were 65 saloons, 18 lodging houses and hotels, 3 breweries, liquor wholesalers, two banks, barbershops, newspapers, a school, a post office and telegraph office but no church.
Inside the hotel, anyone for a game of pool?
The south end of town was the respectable part of town where balls, recitals and concerts were held in the miners social centre. There was even a race course and just south of town at Booker Flat.
All the saloons and shady ladies were at the north end of town.
It’s thought that from 1859 to the 1940’s more than 100 million worth of gold was mined in Bodie.
When miners moved on to the next big strike they literally took what they could carry and left the rest, so some of the buildings contain, chairs tables, even crockery,
beds, clothes and goodness knows what. After one such move, some poor woman was probably bemoaning the fact that she’d had to leave her sewing machine behind.
Today Bodie is a California State Historical Landmark and is kept in a state of ‘arrested decay’. Parts of the town are off-limits due to unstable ground, but you can take a ranger led tour of the mine.
Even though Bodie’s open all year, in the winter it’s hard to reach because of deep snow.
We visited on a Saturday when it was really busy, despite that we had a great day. We didn’t see any ghosts and definitely didn’t bring any ‘old stuff’ away with us, apart from the fact that it’s illegal, you never know, that curse just might be true!
Have fun, we are!