Located in the Eastern Sierra, close to the Nevada border on the California side is a well-preserved ghost town called, Bodie. Once a thriving gold mining town with enough crime and prostitution to compete with other boom towns, it is now a National Historic Landmark and considered to be one of the best preserved ghost towns in the country. It has often been described as sitting in “arrested decay”, looking much the way it did when the last of the remaining residents vacated over 50 years ago. Items have purposely been left in their place, with park rangers and staff making sure that it all remains in tact.
Getting to this national park is not a piece of cake. It’s pretty much out there in the open, with no trees or civilization in sight. The last three miles of the winding road to get to Bodie is completely unpaved making for a very bumpy ride. Ladies, wear your sports bra. My instinct was to pray that we didn’t get a flat tire considering that AAA probably wouldn’t rescue us in such a desolate area but I was also struck by how difficult it must have been to endure the harsh winters with rugged mountains and little natural protection from the inclement weather. (I know, people in Nebraska right now are howling at me but I live in concrete and mountains. I consider heavy rain to be harsh.)
Bodie was discovered in 1859 by William Bodey during the down slope of the gold rush and soon after, a mill was established in the town creating a community where families and saloon owners, prostitutes and priests all resided together. There are conflicting reports on why the spelling was changed. It has been said that the town intended to change the spelling to make sure the pronunciation would be correct, or it could have been a simple spelling error from an illiterate person who created the town sign. Either way, the town was referenced by a reverend FM Warrington as, “a sea of sin.” It is well noted that a little San Jose girl, whose family was moving to the booming town was quoted as saying, “Good-bye God, I’m going to Bodie.” To say the least, it was a rough ‘hood.
The Bodie Curse-ooooohhhhhh!
Apparently, if a visitor removes anything from the site, even a pebble, they will have misfortune and basic bad luck until that item has been put back. The rangers often receive mail from past visitors returning items with letters attached, apologizing for having removed them in the first place. They wanted to return the item(s) out of fear of bad lack or from having experienced bad luck as a result. In addition to “the curse,” ghosts have been seen around town such as the little girl who was accidentally killed when she was struck by a mining tool. There is a little white statue where she was buried and she has been seen around the statue and the town over the years, smiling and playing.
Another ghost well known in the town is that of a maid who had been having a fling with her businessman boss. The affair went on until his wife caught on to the affair, leaving the maid distraught and heartbroken enough to commit suicide in the house. These days, a woman is seen looking out of the window on the top floor of the Cain House. She has also been accused of turning lights on and off, and making loud noises with the intention of scaring people off. What can you say? She’s still pissed!
The Mendocini house is a haunted house I would love to be in. The Mendocini house has often been described as smelling like Italian food, with sounds of laughter and children playing as if a big, party or gathering is taking place. My kind of ghosts.
A legend well known from the town is The Bad Man of Bodie. Those were the days of Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill, and Doc Holliday who became icons of American folk history. Bodie had the Bad Man of Bodie, whose reputation was short lived but made an impact nonetheless.
The history of this town is extensive and worth reading about. Some great websites to check out are: http://www.bodiehistory.com http://www.bodie.com and http://www.ghosttowngallery.com. Read about the people who occupied the town as well as the two tragic fires the town suffered.
If you love ghost towns and historical sites in general, this is a great day trip. You may even run into a friendly ghost. 🙂
Location: Bodie is located 50 miles south of Lake Tahoe, in Mono County close to the town of Bridgeport. It is 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Highway 270. The last 3 miles of the road to Bodie is totally unpaved so drive slowly and be sure your tires and shocks are up to snuff!
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for ghosts, horror films and the paranormal in general. This is just the beginning of the ghost hunting posts so check back. I’ve already been on some great “ghost hunting” trips which luckily have not resulted in my own version of “The Blair Witch Project.” At least not yet.
Next up……The ghosts of La Purissima Mission-Lompoc, CA. and Virginia City, Nevada.
Photo Credit: All photos were taken by Lisa Crisosto-ghost hunter and photographer extraordinaire.