Bodie, a California Ghost Town

Bodie Travel Blog

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This is a small sawmill. Because Bodie is above the tree line, all the logs were brought in from other areas.
During our 2002 trip to Northern California, we were in the area of Mona Lake and decided to take a side trip to Bodie, just because we like these kind of places. We weren't disappointed.

It was a bright and sunny day as we cruised the two lane road that curved through the mountains. It's so barren, just scrub, rocks and dirt. The last few miles of the road is dirt, so we can't help but wonder if we're going in the right direction.

Although it's only 30 miles, the drive takes us over an hour. But eventually, around some curves, and through a valley, we see it, totally isolated and locked in another time. Oh, I love it already!

There's a rangers station as you come into the park where you pay a small admission of $5 per person.
I love images through windows.
I felt this was very reasonable since the money contributes to the preservation of the area. You also receive a map and visitor information. After parking you are free to walk almost anywhere.

Some buildings are open and staged to look like they did when used. There's the funeral director, schoolhouse, a few stores and some homes. Most are locked, but you can still look in the windows and walk freely. There's not a lot of visitors at any one time. You may only see a few people while exploring such a large area.

We didn't go to every building, it really is a good size town. Remember over 8,000 people lived there at one time. Even though most of the buildings are gone, it takes a lot of space for that many people. I think Main Street was close to a mile long.

The weather was beautiful, so Doug and I spent quite a bit of time walking through the ruins.
Car skeleton.
I was amazed that around some of the homesteads there was garbage everywhere, but not what you would think. Everything was so old, and since there wasn't any garbage pickup like we have now, it was buried. I imagine the wind and weather uncovered it over the years. It was mostly really old metal and broken glass. You do need to be careful as this really is a ruin left in it's original condition. I wish I had taken pictures of it. Oh well, another reason to go back.

One of the interesting stories was how electricity was brought to town. Electricity was important because wood was scarce and steam power was used to run the mill. A power plant was built at a creek 13 miles away. At the time it was thought  that power running through the lines could not turn corners, so all the power line were run in a straight line - for 13 miles! Although most residents thought the entire idea was crazy, Bodie was the first town in the world to operate a stamp mill with alternating current.
Electrical service coming into the HydroElectic Buildng and Power Substation

Part of the area cannot be toured because it is a toxic site. In order to get every last bit of gold and silver out of the ore they used a cyanide process. This leaching process causes the gold and silver to liquefy, separating it from the crushed rock. Zinc is then added to return the gold and silver to a solid form. Then Sulphuric acid is added to dissolve the zinc, leaving just the gold & silver mixture. Unfortunatly they did not know how dangerous these chemicals are to the environment and they were not disposed of properly, leaving the area of contamination unusable.

There is also a store where you can purchase books and mining souvenirs in the old hotel and I.O.O.F. Hall. There was also one building where a photographer was working and another where a group of musicians were relaxing and playing some music for their own pleasure.
Electicity coming into town.
I did not have the impression that these people were actually working for the park. With the exception of the hotel and hall buildings there were no guides that we saw. You really only need your guide book to explore at your own pace.

Bodie is located in the Basin Range, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about 13 miles East of U.S. Highway 395 in central California.

lrecht says:
Congrats on your photo award and thanks for inspiring me to start working on my Bodie/Mono/Mammoth Lakes blog!
Posted on: Nov 14, 2010
hummingbird50 says:
Ooo I love old towns.
Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Apr 20, 2010
bernard69 says:
nice pics!
Posted on: Mar 10, 2010
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This is a small sawmill. Because B…
This is a small sawmill. Because …
I love images through windows.
I love images through windows.
Car skeleton.
Car skeleton.
Electrical service coming into the…
Electrical service coming into th…
Electicity coming into town.
Electicity coming into town.
James Stuart Cains Home, he becam…
James Stuart Cain's Home, he beca…
This is the Standard Mill, where g…
This is the Standard Mill, where …
The long road into Bodie.
The long road into Bodie.
Bob Conway owned a freight wagon b…
Bob Conway owned a freight wagon …
Buildings were covered with materi…
Buildings were covered with mater…
The school house was originally th…
The school house was originally t…
Dechambeau Hotel on the right, and…
Dechambeau Hotel on the right, an…
On the school house teachers desk.
On the school house teacher's desk.
Henry Metzger house, the Standard …
Henry Metzger house, the Standard…
Mine Shaft
Mine Shaft
Pulley or flywheel and other mine …
Pulley or flywheel and other mine…
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photo by: mslellen