Ghost Town of the gold rush

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rufusni on November 14, 2012

We turned off the main road for about a ten mile drive to Bodie, the last 3 miles of which was unpaved and fairly rocky and bumpy ( but then again as you are going to a ghost town its just part of getting to thinking of life when this place was a thriving gold rush town). It was a fairly hot day and there isn't much shade up here as over the years any tree in the vicinity was cut down to burn in Brodie. There are restrooms in the carpark.

This place is maintained in arrested decay, that is the authorities have decided to not restore most of the buildings but simply to prevent further decay so that it is kept as a historic reminder of the gold rush. Only 5% of the building that existed in it heydey in the 1880s even remain. Gold was found here in 1859 by a guy called Body, for whom the town is named. There were fifteen mines in Bodie, as well as numerous mills to process the silver and gold. Power was needed, which originally came from wood burning boilers but wood became a scarcer resource and more expensive to procure. So a hydroelectric plant was built 13 miles away on Green Creek, with the theory that electricity could be transmitted over distance with wires, though they thought it would only travel in a straight line so they built power lines in straight lines. The first test in 1892 was successful and inspired other projects.

There is a small musuem with objects from the time. It is also worth buying the guide book so you know what you are looking at. There are some buildings that are in better state than others. There is a church, saloons, hotels, mills, offices, houses, gym. Some you can get into, others you can peer through windows and doors, but most of the mine areas are off limits as too dangerous.

This is a real desolate spot high in the hills. Little reason other than gold would draw people up here. So many men came for work up here. But it was known for its wickness - apparently there is a story of a young girl on hearing her family was going to Bodie said 'Goodbye God I'm going to Bodie', a phrase that apparently caught on.

This was a fascinating place to visit. The power of the Gold Rush to suddenly develop a town and then with its lack for the town to decline to become a ghost town. Its kind of an eerie place, that once was filled with life and noise, now quiet with the noise of wind and the chattering of tourists. Its strange to think that only 5% of the buildings even remain, that this was once a bustling industrial town, it somehow does not seem possible. Its also strange to see so many items just left behind when people left, simply not possible to take everything across the desolate countryside with them.

It is a desolate spot. You can get water but if you want food you need to bring it with you - and we were there in the middle of the day and it was hot so we needed plenty to drink as we walked about and this is at a fair altitude as well. This place is fascinating - but you will need decent footwear - flipflops won't cut it on the rough streets and the odd bits of scrap nails and things about the place. I loved peering into all the buildings and see a life once lived here, imagining the noise and people. It was worth the detour to see another aspect of American history that was so important in its development - the gold rush. I just wish I could have got on one of the guided tours - which go into areas not accessible otherwise.
Bodie State Historic Park-Gold Rush Ghost Town
Bodie Road
Bridgeport, California, 93517

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