Bodie is preserved in a state of "arrested decay" -- meaning everything stays just as it was when the abandoned town was acquired by the state parks department in 1962.
No one comes to Bodie, California, for the gold anymore.
That kind of traffic peaked in the late-19th century, after a mine cave-in in 1875 revealed vast quantities of gold ore. People from all over the world rushed to the high desert town, hoping to strike it rich. And with nearly 10,000 tons of ore extracted from the mine, it was one of the richest gold strikes in California.
By 1879, there were nearly 10,000 people living in Bodie. More than 2,000 buildings dotted the rolling hills: as many as 70 saloons, a bowling alley, dance halls, gambling halls, general stores, hotels, churches, and about 200 restaurants.
At its peak circa 1879, Bodie, California, had a population of nearly 10,000 people and more than 2,000 buildings.
But its heyday didn’t last long. By 1881, the mines were depleted, miners left for new areas, mining companies went bankrupt. There was a boost in production again in the 1890s, a few years after a fire ravaged much of the town. But in 1932, another fire burned all but 10 percent of Bodie, and by the 1940s, it was essentially abandoned. In 1962, what remained of Bodie after that 1932 conflagration was declared a State Historic Park and a National Historic Landmark.
Today, decades later, crowds still flock this remote region of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, northeast of Yosemite, to visit Bodie. But it’s not gold they seek -- it’s a genuine ghost town experience.... Read More →
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Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.