Wild West Ghost Town of Bodie, California
Bodie was a quintessential frontier town of the Old West, complete with dozens of saloons, a red light district and a Chinatown. Stories of its history include tales of barroom brawls, stagecoach robberies and other Wild West debauchery. Founded during the Gold Rush the town thrived through the early 20th Century but was subsequently deserted and now is preserved and partially restored to its original state.
Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States, about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe. It is located 12 miles (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport, at an elevation of 8379 feet (2554 m). As Bodie Historic District, the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes it as a National Historic Landmark. The ghost town has been administered by California State Parks since becoming a state historic park in 1962, and receives about 200,000 visitors yearly.
When mining began to decline along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, prospectors began to cross the eastern slope in search of their fortunes. One such man named William (aka: Waterman) S. Bodey, discovered gold near a place that is now called Bodie Bluff in 1859. Alas, the poor man died in a snow storm that very winter and never saw the new town that would be named after him.
Though one legend attributes the change of spelling to an illiterate sign painter, the citizens deliberately changed the spelling in order to ensure correct pronunciation.
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. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.
Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.
Bodie is my favorite ghost town. Because it’s aCalifornia State Park, the buildings and their contents are protected year-round. This allows you to see a town left just as it was, with all the elements intact. A perfectly preserved window in time.
It’s also a fabulous site for photographers. There are so many interesting photo compositions. It’s probably the most photographed Ghost Town in the West.