Bodie – Wild West Ghost Town
After our recent trip to Yosemite, and on our way up to visit friends in Reno, Pops and I stopped in the ghost town Bodie. I have wanted to visit Bodie for years. Not just because it’s said to be a ghost town, but also because I saw some amazing photographs of the town taken by a local (and incredible) photographer Stephen Oachs a few years ago.
Ever since then, I’ve simply had to visit. My photos aren’t nearly as beautiful as his, but hopefully you’ll get a feel for what this town is now like.
Bodie is a State Historic Park and a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. When you visit, you can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. In 1875, small amounts of gold were found by William S. Body in the nearby hills. After that people flocked here and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown. It really is in the middle of nowhere at a pretty high elevation (8375 feet). After pulling off the main State Route, you go east 10 miles up and up and up until the end of the pavement where you continue 3 miles more on dirt road – very bumpy dirt road.
The last residents left Bodie over 50 years ago. Only a small part of the town eerily survives with interiors as they were left then even with shelves stocked with goods.
They have no commercial facilities in Bodie (as in you can’t stay there – and probably don’t want to). There is a small bookstore in the museum, but no food, gasoline or lodging.
Bodie was considered a pretty lawless place with it was booming with over 8,500 people and more than 2,000 buildings including over 60 saloons. Two large fires took their toll on the town the last in 1932 destroyed all but 10 percent of the town.
You can walk around the town, peering in the windows of all the remaining buildings and even go inside a few and really experience how dusty it is up there and how crazy it might’ve made you in the past to try to keep your house clean.
There is a free tour you can take and even a “ghost” tour. Ghost stories about little girls who were accidentally murdered, beautiful gambler women, elderly women still seen rocking on porches to a myriad of other ghostly images seen near the old saloon, jail and mortuary make the visit even more exciting.
One of the town’s most famous haunters is a 4 year girl named Evelyn. Life had to be incredibly hard in this town for everyone and especially the children. You would think you’d want to escape, but it seems this child never wanted to leave.
One of the most famous stories about Bodie isn’t actually about a ghost or haunted house but a curse. According to the legend, the spirits of former residents protect the town from all those who would remove parts of it. Anyone who removes something, regardless of size, from Bodie is cursed with bad luck and misfortune until the removed items are returned. According to park rangers, every year they receive objects in the mail taken from Bodie. Sometimes these objects are received with anonymous letters of apology to both the town and its guardian spirits…..eeeerie!
As we are now in October and my favorite holiday Halloween is approaching, I’d love it if you’d share any spooky stories, links, and photos with me.
To see more Bodie check out my Flickr!