While working with our new friends at the National Elk Refuge, we learned from some of them about Bodie State Historical Park just north of Yosemite National Park. Listening to them describe this place convinced us it was something that we just HAD to see when we were in the area.
The park is a real ghost town. When I say “real” it’s because although it is a tourist attraction, it’s not like so many other tourist “traps” that are commercialized and always pushing their trinkets, snacks, and other junk on you.
Bodie State Historical Park sits about 15 miles east of U.S. 395 on State Rt 270 and be advised that we do NOT RECOMMEND taking this road with your RV because most of the route is dirt and in pretty rough shape. You don’t need a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but you really do not want to subject your RV (and it’s contents) to the shake, rattle and roll they’d get traveling this dirt road.
As the plaque above explains, Bodie was a gold mining town. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from the park web site;
Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.
Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.
It was really eerie walking the streets and seeing the many buildings that remain. We were told by park rangers that the empty spaces between buildings actually used to be occupied by buildings as well. This was a pretty large town in it’s day!
As always, clicking on any of the thumbnails below will open the larger image.
A few people continued to live in Bodie until after World War II, when the last producing, mine, the Lucky Boy was shut down.
By then only six people were left in the old settlement and five of these would soon die untimely deaths. First, one of the men shot his wife and after she died, three men killed the murdering husband. According to legend, the ghost of the murdered man would visit the three men, shaking his fist. Soon, all three would die of strange diseases.
By the end of the 1940s, Bodie was a ghost town and was visited only by tourists interested in its history.
In 1962, after years of neglect, Bodie became a State Historic Park, and two years later the ghost town of Bodie was dedicated as a California Historic Site. It has also been designated a National Historic Site.
A few of the buildings have white window shades or drapes in them and we learned that those buildings are actually residences for state park rangers and other staff. What an interesting place this would be on a moonlit night, eh?
If you know of anyone planning on visiting Yosemite National Park, be sure to tell them about Bodie Historical State Park just north of Lee Vining California.
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