“Goodbye God. I am going to Bodie.” Ghost Towns of the Old West

 

Tattered curtains, a cracked window, and a reflection of weather warn buildings capture the essence of the Old West ghost town of Bodie, California.

Ghostly curtains, a cracked window, and a reflection of weather worn buildings capture the essence of Bodie, California.

Goodbye God, I am going to Bodie,”  was a statement made by a ten-year old in her journal when her family took her to Bodie during its glory days as a gold rush town.

She was right to be concerned. There was plenty of sin to go around as various bad men of the Old West came together with gold seekers and other adventurers in the 1870s. Killings took place almost daily. The fire station would toll the age of the person killed. Robberies, stagecoach holdups and barroom brawls filled in around the edges. It’s “a sea of sin lashed by the tempests of lust and passion,” Reverend F.M. Warrington noted.

And if that weren’t enough, there was the weather to contend with. Winter could bring snows as deep as 20 feet, winds up to 100 miles per hour, and temperatures that dropped to 30˚ F below zero. Freezing to death was on the list of things that might kill you.

Today Bodie is maintained in a state of “arrested decay” as a California State Historical Park. This makes it substantially different from Rhyolite, where things are more or less allowed to fall apart. Most of Bodie’s buildings are still intact– even though some may need a little help. (Grin)

Propped up outhouse in the ghost town of Bodie, California.

Decay doesn’t get much more ‘arrested’ than this propped up outhouse. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Leaning building in the Bodie State Park ghost town. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This building is a little confused about which direction it wants to lean. The support beam it is ‘leaning into’ is on the left.

Building held up by support beams at Bodie State Park in California.

A building that apparently needed a lot of help. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Bones of building at Bodie State Park in California.

Almost beyond help, this building relies on its neighbor for support. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Bodie is located east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains off of Highway 395 near the town of Bridgeport. A paved side road that soon turns to dirt delivers visitors to the ghost town. When we arrived, Mono County was seriously engaged in tearing up the dirt section of the road. Our truck was not happy. (I assume they have put the road back together by now.) Peggy and I got ‘lost’ leaving the town. It is really hard to do. I chalk it up to subconsciously wanting to avoid another personal encounter with the Mono County Highway Department. Anyway, we explored 20 or so miles of dirt road before finding our way back to the highway.

Mining equipment at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

As expected, one place to find old mining equipment is in old mining towns. The cages seen beneath the head frame were used to lift miners into and out of the mines.

Place setting covered in dust at Bodie State Historical Park.

I’ll classify this as a ‘still life’ photo. Apparently it’s been still for decades. It’s what happens when you are late for dinner.

Old bed at Bodie State Historic Park in California.

Why does ‘spring into action’ come to mind?

An old truck at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

This truck had character including the yellow rim on the back wheel. I assume the roped door was to keep kids (both small and big) out of the vehicle.

Old car remains at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

This car was more open for inspection.

Prairie dog at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

Speaking of inspection, a prairie dog stopped his busy rounds of grass chomping to check us out. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Shell gas station at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

A Shell gas station.

Old Shell gas sign at Bodie Historical Park in California

Apparently someone was upset about the increased cost of gas. Maybe it had jumped from fifteen to sixteen cents a gallon.

Methodist Church is Bodie State Historical Park in California.

The end of the bad old days in the West was often signified by the building of a church. It appears they weren’t quite over in Bodie however. An oil cloth painting of the Ten Commandants in the Methodist Church that hung behind the altar was stolen. So much for “Thou shalt not steal.”

The morgue at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

If there are haunted places in Bodie, the morgue is a prime location. The featured casket provides a window to view the deceased. A Bible rests on the table. Or maybe it is a copy of Mortuary Science for Dummies.

Old power pole in the ghost town of Bodie.

This power pole seemed sufficiently ghostly to reside in a ghost town.

House of mine worker at Bodie ghost town.

Peggy stands in front of one of the shacks where a miner  lived.

The J.S. Caine residence at Bodie State Historical Park in California.

Here she stands in front of the house of the guy who owned the mine.

IOOF Hall in the ghost town of Bodie.

The International Order of Odd Fellows Hall. I’d almost join for the name alone.

View of the ghost town of Bodie.

A wider view of Bodie. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Getting lost on the way out of Bodie wasn't bad considering the scenery.

Getting lost on the way out of Bodie wasn’t bad considering the scenery.

We did become a little concerned as evening approached and we were still wandering around on our dirt road.

We did become a little concerned as evening approached and we were still wandering around on our dirt road. But eventually we arrived in Bridgeport and could declare our detour another adventure.

NEXT BLOG: We journey up California’s beautiful Highway 395 and stop to admire Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. And, I might add, a mountain I have climbed six times.