Bodie, A Genuine California Ghost Town

Banner California Bodie Ghost Town 23, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
There are many so-called ‘ghost towns’ in North America.  But few rival the historic town of Bodie in Northern  California.
California Bodie 3, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography - Copy
It is now a State Historic Park located northeast of Yosemite Park about, 20 kms. east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road (Hwy 270), 11 kms. south of Bridgeport.
At its height, Bodie was home to almost 10,000 people during its gold rush.
 
California Bodie 7, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
Today, it’s a photographer’s dream!
California Bodie Ghost Town 31, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie Ghost Town 16, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie Ghost Town 11, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie Ghost Town 14, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie 4A, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
The town is named after William Bodey (some references indicate the name was Body) who discovered small amounts of gold around 1859. Bodey died not long after his discovery and never lived to see his namesake town rise in the Sierra Mountain foCalifornia Bodie Ghost Town 29, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyothills.
Some attribute the switch to Bodie as the result of an illiterate sign-painter while others believe the change was to ensure proper pronunciation.
California Bodie 8, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
In 1877 the Standard Company discovered large deposits when it dug a mine. The population grew very quickly and by 1879 Bodie had an estimated population of about 6,000 people (some believe as many as 10,000). However, there are many conflicting accounts of the actual resident numbers during this period. The town grew very fast.
California Bodie Ghost Town 18, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie Ghost Town 10, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
 
The California Bodie Ghost Town 30, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyheyday for Bodie was around 1880.
By California Bodie Ghost Town 22, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography1882 a railway brought in essentials, including mining equipment, lumber, food and other essential supplies. During this period, there were approximately 2,000 buildings.
Roughly 30 mines were in operation and the money flowed.

There were 65 saloons, gambling halls, brothels, three breweries and even opium dens. The Methodist and Catholic churches were built in 1882.

California Bodie Ghost Town 3, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
Bodie also had a Chinatown with several hundred Chinese residents and a Taoist temple.  As fast as it grew, the town population dropped as opportunists attracted to the gold rush moved on to other boomtowns.
California Bodie 9, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyBy 1882 population was around 3,000 residents. Then, in 1892, a fire destroyed much of the main business district. The main mill was burned in 1898 and rebuilt the following year.
 
California Bodie Ghost Town 21, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyCalifornia Bodie Ghost Town 15, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
California Bodie 5, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
By 1910 there were fewer than 700 residents in Bodie. In 1912, the Bodie Miner newspaper closed its doors.
California Bodie Ghost Town 13, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
In 1916 the Standard Mill was closed and soon after the railway was abandoned. Fire again hit in 1932 when a young boy was playing with matches. That fire destroyed 95% of the town.
 
California Bodie Ghost Town 5, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyIn 1942 the last mine in Bodie was closed on the order of the United States government which was consolidating the industry in aid of wartime production. The Post Office—which had operated since 1877, was also closed that same year. By this time, most of the town was owned by the Cain family who hired caretakers to watch over what remained of the town as it became popular even then as a ‘ghost town.’
 California Bodie Ghost Town 28, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
In 1961, after years of decline,Bodie became a National Historic Landmark and the following year a State Historic Park. At that time there were approximately 170 buildings remaining. Today there are about 110, including one of the Standard Company Mine building.
 
California Bodie Ghost Town 25, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyVisiting Bodie? The  last 5 kms. are a very rough gravel road making reduced speed an absolute necessity. There are restrooms in the ‘pay and display’ parking lot.  That’s it; nothing else. Bring your own food and beverages.  Wear a hat; there’s virtually no shade.  Sunglasses are a good idea too.
California Bodie Ghost Town 9, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photographyCalifornia Bodie Ghost Town 8, photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
You are not allowed to take anything from the site and the National Parks Service does not permit metal detectors in the park. No overnight camping is permitted. The best time of the year to visit is in the late summer early fall.  Winters can be very snowy and in Spring the road in and the park itself can be very muddy.
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All photos copyright, John Ecker     |     pantheon photography
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About Pantheon

www.johnecker.ca Lives in Canada. Likes to travel. Loves Europe. Avid Photographer. Drives Mazdas
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2 Responses to Bodie, A Genuine California Ghost Town

  1. Pingback: Bodie, a Genuine California Ghost Town, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography | Pantheon Photography | john ecker

  2. Pingback: Bodie, a Genuine California Ghost Town, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography | Pantheon Photography | john ecker

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