Bodie California: A Gold Mining Town Frozen in Time

October 17, 2014 by


Bodie California offers a chance to visit a well-preserved ghost town. This former mining town was established back in 1876 and is located about 75 miles from Lake Tahoe in Bodie State Historic Park.

Bodie General Store

Bodie General Store

Ghost Town

In its heyday, Bodie was a boomtown and home to 10,000 residents and as many as 65 saloons. According to hearsay, the town even had a red-light district. However, that all came to an abrupt halt in 1932 when fire burned the heart of the town — Bodie’s business district.

With that loss, residents were forced to relocate. They left behind what was left of the town, and today the exterior of those buildings are in a state of “arrested decay” and inside they look just like they did 82 years ago right down to stocked shelves and a few personal items.

As a result, in 1962 the town was designated as a National Historic Park and today it offers visitors a chance to visit a genuine California gold-mining ghost town and once-in-awhile to even experience an occasional ghost.

Bodie Mine

Bodie Mine

Things to See and Do

So what can you expect to do in this ghost town? In an effort to preserve the ghost town atmosphere, you won’t find a place to buy gas or food in Bodie, but you will find a bookstore inside the on-site museum. Here you can also learn about daily tours available. Public restrooms are available at the parking lot and picnic area.

In all, there are about 100 structures still standing in Bodie including everything from the giant Standard Mill and general store down to small out-house structures. Most of the buildings are closed to visitors for their own protection, because even though the buildings are structurally sound, they present threats like exposed nails, old floorboards, broken glass and other safety hazards that could result in injury.

Because Bodie is part of an historic scene, it is fully protected which means nothing can be removed from the park and metal detectors are not allowed. In fact, it is said that if anything is removed a curse comes with it.

Photo credits: Keith Skelton, Cliff Stone, Brent Pearson

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