Bodie California'S Park With A Past
Bodie, California isn't a Hollywood stage set but a genuine old west ghost town. This page offers history and tourist tips on the state park.
In 1859 Bill Bodey discovered gold in a remote are of the eastern Sierras. Little did he know that a nearby town would become his namesake. The young man perished in a severe winter snowstorm before he could enjoy the honor, or correct the misspelling of his name. But Bodie flourished. The promise of gold could not be ignored. Within a few years close to 10,000 people lived in the town. Violence was an everyday occurrence. Gunslingers, and disease took their toll. The jail and the cemeteries quickly filled.
By the mid 1950's the town of Bodie seemed destined to become just another ghost town. The population had dwindled to only a few hardy souls. With the gold gone and the area mines nearly depleted, the last of Bodie's residents packed up and moved away. What they couldn't haul, they simply left behind. This brought the scavengers. Fortunately, the state of California realized the historical significance of the abandoned town and took steps to curb its destruction by making it a state park in 1962.
Located in the eastern Sierras, about an hour's drive from the east gate of Yosemite, Bodie is a place the entire family will enjoy. It's best visited in late spring, summer and early fall. Winters can be severe and heavy snows from fall to spring often make travel into the park impossible to any vehicles other than snowmobiles.
During the summer season the park is open from 8am until 7pm. So you'll have plenty of time for exploring. The price is an easy on the pocket book, $2.00 per person.
WHAT TO BRING:
The last few miles of the road into Bodie are rough and unpaved. Flat tires are not uncommon. Make sure the spare is in good condition. There are no service stations in Bodie. Come prepared. Always bring plenty of fresh water. While there are flush toilets and drinking fountains at Bodie occasionally the area is under a boil order and fountains are turned off. A sweater or light jacket, even in the summer, is a necessity. If you plan on spending the day make sure you have food and snacks. Bodie is a wonderful spot for photography; you'll want to have plenty of film. There's a small gift shop, but their supplies are limited.
WHAT TO SEE:
After you park in the lot, you're across from the old cemetery. Some of the old headstones are still in good condition and make for interesting reading. In town a few buildings remain much as they were during the town's heyday. The public isn't allowed to go inside any but a few, still you can peek inside most of them. There's the church, the old schoolhouse, the saloon, and the undertakers. The bank and the jail have nearly crumbled over the years. Of special photographic interest are the old abandoned cars in town.
As you walk along you'll notice that the streets are as they were, very dusty. Occasionally the wind whistles down from the abandoned mining operation and kicks tumbleweeds in all directions, an eerie reminder that Bodie is truly a ghost town to enjoy.
For more information on Bodie contact the Bodie park rangers at 760-647-6445.