Be a Ghost Buster
Bodie, arguably the best ghost town in America lies just northeast of Yosemite National Park. In 1859 William Bodey discovered gold here. Unfortunately he died a short time later trying to survive a brutal winter. Others came but it was not until 1877 when the mother lode was found. Overnight Bodie became the second largest city in California. At one time this city had over 2,000 structures and a population of 10,000. The spelling of the city name has never been fully explained but correct spelling was not a priority of the pioneers. Phonetically it sounded right. This is a genuine wild west town sporting a red light district and 65 saloons. One of the most active mining camps in the west, there were over 30 active mines, a narrow guage railroad, and even a thriving newspaper with plenty of killings and robberies to write about. Most mining activity ended around World War 2 but some people hung on until 1962. This explains why there is so much here and had not been pilfered over time. In 1962 the city received National Historic Landmark status, and became a State of California Historic Park.
After paying an entrance fee continue on to the main parking lot where restrooms are available. There is drinking water but no other amenities. Bring your own food. It is family friendly and they will make exceptions for the handicapped by letting you drive to the museum in town. Start your hike by paying your respects on boothill. At the entrance to the cemetery you can pick up a brochure which tells stories about many of the deceased. Being high above the town at this point gives a nice perspective. Hiking south from the cemetery brings you down to Bodie Creek entering town from the west. Follow the creek east. The town is so intact looking that it seems to be a Hollywood set. As you look in the buildings, its as the inhabitants just walked away, leaving the shelves stocked and the dinner tables set. As amazing as it is only about 5 percent of the structures remain. One of the first buildings you encounter is the museum. It is staffed, and packed with antiques. After the museum head south and up the hill south of town. Dwellings are scattered all the way to the top and beyond but the area beyond the top is fenced off as unsafe. Mine tailing are all around. Head for the mill site to your east. The huge mill structure is intact and as the wind blows you here the metal siding and roof clang and bang. Structures are leaning every which way and many do not appear to have been very level when they were hastily erected. Follow the entry prohibited fence east as you observe what is left of huge stone structures. Go beyond Bodie creek to the east to see a few old wells and mines. Now head towards the center of town and the red light district. The old jail is here along with the city livery stable and the first bank in these parts. Continue your hike by cruising the deserted streets and imagine the violence and wild living that took place here.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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