BODIE GHOST TOWN
In just an hour drive; you can relive the Gold mining town of Bodie, a favorite day tour and landmark in the Eastern Sierra. Bodie flourished from 1877-88 with 10,000 miners in residence and mines yielding over $35 million in gold. Now it's the largest unrestored ghost town in the Western U.S., featuring weathered buildings, a museum and a visitor center. Peek into windows at the old general store and see bottles, merchandise and more from days gone by. Bodie's silent streets and vacant structures offer guests a glimpse into the past of one of the wildest mining camps of the Eastern Sierra. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of "arrested decay". Today tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost, visit this once thriving mining camp. Bodie is located 35 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and 13 miles east on Hwy. 270
BODIE HISTORICAL STATE PARK
The wild rush to the high desert country began as placer mining declined along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. In 1859 Waterman S. Body and Black Taylor came upon what was to be one of the richest gold discoveries the West had ever known. The ore mined in the Bodie hills accounted for more than 32 million dollars in gold and 6-7 million in silver.
The spelling of the town's name was changed to Bodie in the early years to avoid the name being mispronounced. Bodie himself was not able to enjoy the fruits of his discovery as he froze to death the first winter while returning with supplies.
Mining was slow during the 1860's and early 1870's as another town nearby in Nevada was producing well. 1877 marked the year the Standard Mining Company made a phenomenally rich strike of gold and silver ore. The rush was on! Even the most terrible winter in the history of Bodie did not deter the miners. Mining companies merged, stocks jumped up to fifty dollars a share, and mills churned around the clock.
Gold fever spread like wildfire amongst all those who wanted to "get rich quick". The cry, "Good-bye God, I'm going to Bodie" was only half jest. During its heyday (1879-1881) Bodie rose to a population of approximately 10,000 and acquired over sixty saloons and dance halls. Bodie became known as the "most lawless, wildest and toughest mining camp the far west has ever known". The Bad Man from Bodie" walked the seldom-quiet street, for a killing was said to have occurred almost everyday.
Other businesses profited during Bodie's Boom. A steady supply of wood was needed to power the mills and warm the houses. The Chinese provided this by the "mule load" until the Bodie-Benton Railroad was completed to transport heavy loads of lumber and firewood. A room could be gotten for $1.00 a night, general stores and saloons provided the necessities of life, and the oldest profession of the mining camps was practiced by the women of Bonanza Street. Bodie had just about all a man could ask for.
As fate would have it, Bodie's heyday was short-lived. The years following 1881 began her decline. Mining diminished and businesses were abandoned. A disastrous fire threatened the town in 1892, when many homes and buildings were destroyed. The advent of electrical power to run the mill and the cyanide process for working the mill tailings aroused interest once again, however this rise was also short-lived. While playing with matches, little "Bodie Bill" of 2.5 years, gained historical recognition for starting the 1932 fire destroying all but 10 percent of the town, the part that remains today.
In 1962 Bodie became a state historic park. This did not automatically insure all structures and artifacts would be properly preserved and the park has to compete for state funds, so the last bit of road remains unpaved, a rugged, yet memorable drive.
Bodie State Park Hours
Today it looks much the same as it did over 50 years ago when the last residents left. A self-guiding brochure describing a brief history of each building is available at the park or by mail.
HOURS: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend: 9 am to 7 pm. A museum is open from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, 10 am to 5 pm.
The remainder of the year the park is open from 9 am to 4 pm or as posted. Hours may vary due to weather or season and are posted at all entrances. Closure hours are strictly enforced to protect the structures and artifacts. Check to be sure times have remained accurate.
ENTRANCE FEES: There is a small entrance fee. Dogs are welcome to accompany park visitors into the park, but must be on a leash at all times.
FACILITIES: There is NO FOOD SERVICE at Bodie. Bring your own food and water. There are picnic tables. To preserve the ghost town atmosphere, there are no commercial facilities at Bodie. Restrooms are located at the parking lot. Primitive pit toilets are available in the town site and in the picnic area.
SOUVENIRS AND COLLECTING: Everything in Bodie is part of the historic scene and is fully protected. NOTHING may be collected or removed from the park. Metal detectors are not allowed.
CLOSED AREAS: For public protection, certain unstable sections of the park are posted as prohibited areas, and are closed to entry by park visitors.
DIRECTIONS: Bodie State Historic Park is 55 miles north of Mammoth off Hwy.395. From U.S. 395 seven miles south of Bridgeport, take State Route 270. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an un-surfaced road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Reduced speeds are necessary. You are encouraged to call the park if there are any questions on road conditions. Phone: 619-647-6445
CAMPING: There is no camping at Bodie. U.S. Forest Service campgrounds are located near Bridgeport and Lee Vining.
WINTER VISITS TO BODIE
If one wishes to get the feeling of Bodie as a ghost town, some believe the best time to visit is during the winter. Bodie is open all year. However, methods of transportation must often change to something that will travel over the top of snow, such as snowshoes, ski's, snowmobile (snowmobiles must stay on designated roads within the park), and on a snow-cat. Four-wheel drive vehicles with tire chains get stuck each year in powdery snow that is deeper than it first appears, and require the assistance of a tow truck and towing facilities are not available.
If you come to Bodie in the winter, be prepared for anything! Bodie is located at an elevation of 8375 feet. Winter weather conditions can change rapidly. Daytime temperatures can reach into the 60's and by sundown drop below zero. During years with normal snowfall you may find 3'-6' of snow on the flat, and drifts up to 20' high. Temperatures from 0 to 25 below zero are not uncommon on a calm night. Wind chill factors can drop temperatures to 50 to 60 degrees below zero.
There are no overnight facilities in or near Bodie. Call ahead for current road and weather conditions prior to your visit.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Bodie State Historic Park
P.O. Box 515, Bridgeport, CA 93517
HCR 1 Box 1000 Bridgeport, CA 93517-0595