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Bodie – California’s Official Gold Rush Ghost Town

Entrance to Bodie

Some people dream of seeing Paris, some dream of Hawaii, I on other hand dreamed of seeing Bodie.  Bodie?, yes Bodie.  Now before you rush to your web browser to find out what/where Bodie is I can give you the 411.  Bodie is a ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, off the 395.  It’s quite a trek to travel to Bodie so if you are interested in visiting might I suggest making it a weekend getaway maybe stay at Mammoth Lakes or Lake Tahoe which are about an hour away in either direction.  The drive along the 395 is quite scenic and if you don’t pay attention you may pass Bodie Road so make sure at least one of you keeps an eye out.  Halfway through the 10 mile drive on Bodie road, the paved road becomes gravel and you will ask yourself am I going the right way.

Finding Bodie on the GPS

The road that leads to Bodie

American flag at Bodie

Before you know it you see the entrance and the official National Historic Landmark sign indicting that yes indeed you are in Bodie.  Surrounded by rolling hills and blue skies this hidden gem of California history takes you back to a time when towns were thriving on the veins of gold. Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors, including W. S. Bodey who the town is names after.

Welcome to Bodie

Bodie monument

Bodie is a California historical landmark

In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining to a Wild West boomtown.  In total Bodie produced over $100 million worth of gold and silver.  By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 5000–7000 people and around 2,000 buildings making it one of the largest cities in California.  Today only about 5% of the buildings remain from the towns 1877-1881 heyday, most having fallen victim to time, fire and the elements.

Exploring Bodie

Naz and her family in Bodie

a church in Bodie

An old house in Bodie

Standing in front of a church in Bodie

Inside the bodie church

Kids learning about history in Bodie

historical buildings in bodie

old farming equipment in bodie

learning about history at Bodie

Inside a shed in Bodie

an old truck in Bodie

Cool old building in Bodie

The small town of Bodie

Exploring the history of Bodie

Rich history surrounding Bodie

Bodie home

Naz in front of a Bodie home

an old work shed in Bodie

 

The population dropped quickly and continued to dwindle into the 1900s but mining continued until 1942.  In 1962, California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the historic buildings and artifacts. The treasures that people left behind are astounding.  Books, artwork, rock chairs that once had life surrounding them now covered in thick layers of dust.  Stores stocked with merchandise, completely abandoned.  Visitors can walk the deserted streets of a town that once was a bustling area of activity and look through the window of lives past.  Homes still furnished, walls covered in wallpaper, a crib in the corner of the kitchen its eerie yet fascinating to see how people just up and left not taking much and leaving a piece of their history behind.

Life in Bodie

 

Bodie tapestry

A bedroom in Bodie

crib in a house in Bodie

A kitchen in Bodie

Old kitchen tools in Bodie

Bottles in a window in Bodie

A store in Bodie

Inside a store in Bodie

Memorabillia from people who lived in Bodie

Antiques in Bodie

personal items from families in bodie

clothing from families in Bodie

Toys from kids in Bodie

Sheriff items in Bodie

photos from families in Bodie

 

piano in Bodie

A Bodie payroll

Bodie carriage

watchmans clock in Bodie

Kitchen utensils in Bodie

Kitchen supplies in Bodie

 

The state parks haven’t really touched any of the buildings so that they keep their historic integrity, but instead repair and stabilize windows, roofs and foundations so that Bodie’s rich history can live on.  When you visit Bodie, you will visually experience the town as it grew decade after decade.  You’ll see houses that were built in the 1870s, the Standard Mill from the late 1890s, gas pumps from the 1920s and a schoolhouse that was used until 1942.

The red cloud mine in Bodie

mining equipment in bodie

a mining tool in Bodie

a mining wheel in Bodie

An old mining truck in Bodie

 

A work truck in Bodie

Bodie gas station

 

school in Bodie

Inside a Bodie school

Bodie has been named California’s official state gold rush ghost town and is a perfect example of how our predecessors lived.  Before you make plans to visit Bodie, make sure to check ahead of time to see if the park is open during the time frame that you would like to visit.  Also the state parks offer guided tours.  During certain times of the year they also give tours to the mines which are generally closed to the public.  For more information about Bodie visit their webpage at www.bodie.com.

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