Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bodie - An American Gold Rush Ghost Town

You can get a larger version of any of these photos by clicking on them.

While vacationing in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, June and I took a trip over to the east side of the mountains.  One of the places we went was Bodie California, or rather the remains of Bodie.   Only 5% of the buildings from it's heyday in the 1880's remain.   Several fires, elements, and time have consumed the rest of the town.   What's left is now a California State Historic Park, preserved just the way it was when the last two families left in the 1960s. 

Bodie grew up from one man to a population of about 10,000 in just 20 years.   These were gold miners looking for fortune and gold in the Sierra Mountains.   Bodie developed a reputation as a bad town full of "Bad Men From Bodie".   One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: "Goodbye God, I'm going to Bodie."   At the peak there were 65 saloons, daily fights and murders.   This was a wild west town.

The buildings remain pretty much as they were, in a state of arrested decay.   The church and one home were open for walking through but most buildings are locked and we had to be satisfied with looking in through dirty windows.  I found I could get decent photos through the windows by placing the front of the lens directly on the window, blocking any light from hitting the window glass and causing reflections.

Some buildings were leaning or falling down, including an outhouse that was falling into the pit.

The town sits at over 8000 feet above sea level.  The day we were there the sky was a beautiful clear blue with wispy clouds.   The sun was very bright, making harsh shadows.  All this made taking photos a real challenge.

If you go to Bodie, be sure to allow 1/2 a day to visit.   It's like no other park you'll visit and you'll not want to rush through.

I have created a short slide show of photos from our time at Bodie.  You can watch it on Youtube


  1. Really neat description and video. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love these, Richard. B.J.

  3. These are great Ricardo!!! Makes me want to plan a trip. Jim