We struck gold in Bodie! Yes, pun very much intended. As far as ghost towns go, this one is a jackpot. The only downside is that we’ve set the bar way high for other ghost town visits.
One of the most striking things about Bodie is that it’s mostly undisturbed so the school, homes, and stores look like someone turned out the lights and left town.
If you like history, Bodie should certainly be on your must-see list (that includes you, Janet!).
Jim could have spent several days in Bodie taking pictures and I could have spent several days peering through windows and walking the deserted streets of a town that once was a bustling area of activity. Bodie is the largest unrestored ghost town in the west and it produced over $35 million in gold and silver from 1877 to 1888. About 110 structures are still standing, including one of many once operational gold mills. It has been a California State Historic Park since 1962.
Growing up on Little House on the Prairie and frequent family visits to historic Forestville, MN, I’ve always been fascinated with how people lived their every day lives “back then”. In Bodie, interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. As we strolled by various homes I saw a mayonnaise jar and Coca Cola bottles on a kitchen table, a woman’s shoe, ironing board, coffee pot, child’s potty training chair, stroller, metal lunch bucket, coats on hooks, child’s metal tractor.
The two story school still had desks in a row and a stove in the middle of the one room. A jack-o-lantern sat by the window, wooden globe, map pulled down showing Europe, several piles of books and papers. I could see Primer on Psychology on top of one stack and a beginners reading book in another.
Certain clues tell the story of how this must have been a wealthy area: homes not only had wallpaper but in one home it was three layers deep, floor covering had at least two layers. Receipts for dress shoes, newspaper showing the newest dance moves, catalog for tux rental, ticket stubs to July 4th and Thanksgiving balls and a woman’s dance card (nearly full) were displayed in the museum.
On the floor of the saloon we could see Prince Albert tobacco tins, beer bottles, a newspaper shows the Colgate Soaps & Perfumes ad. In the hotel lobby the typewriter, key slots, attended telephone machine, signs, and rooms furnished with bed frames, side tables, wash bins look like the proprietor stepped out for lunch, a hundred or so years ago.
When this was a boom town I’m sure the residents never imagined this is what it would become. Jim wondered aloud (I’m paraphrasing) when mankind finally does inhabit other places besides Earth, what cities that we know now will become ghost towns?