Bodie: A California State Historic Park
EVELYN, Beloved daughter of Fannie O. & Albert K. Myers. Born May 1, 1894, Died April 5,1897.
Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie, California: 11 August 2007
Bodie, now a ghost town, was always known as a rough-and-tumble gold mining town. It didn't have much going for it...except for the gold and silver that was wrestled from the deep mine shafts by men who could endure the harsh surroundings.
High desert. 8,375 feet elevation; subject to high winds.
Cold winters. In the winter the temperature often gets to 20 below zero; with a strong wind blowing, the snow drifts can reach 20 feet above the ground. During the winter of 1999-2000, Bodie recorded the coldest temperature in the United States for 71 days, and thus received the dubious distinction of being the overall coldest location in the country during that time-period.
Hot, dry summers. Temperatures in the high 80s.
An isolated town, in desolate terrain, with no significant human settlement within 20 miles.
I could go on, but you get the idea, it was a rough place.
I have been fascinated with Bodie since I first visited the ghost town in 1981 or 1982. At that time, a group of friends and I rode our bicycles on a 3 day ride from Lee Vining to Bodie, to Aurora, to Bridgeport and back to Lee Vining. Since that trip I have enjoyed visiting the rough, hard-scrabble terrain on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.
In early August, I received an email message that the "Friends of Bodie," a non-profit organization that supports the preservation of Bodie, will be having "Friends of Bodie Day" on 11 August. I decided to go to Bodie and participate in the celebration.
This gallery of photos shows Bodie, or rather the remains of Bodie, on 11 August 2007. Today, only about five percent of the buildings it contained during its 1880s heyday still remain. The town of Bodie is just as time, fire and the elements have left it - a genuine California gold mining ghost town. Designated a state historic park in 1962, it is now maintained in a state of "arrested decay."
Bodie was named after Waterman S. Body (aka William S. Bodey), who discovered gold here in 1859. The change in spelling was a deliberate change by the citizenry to ensure proper pronunciation.
Bodie rose to prominence with the decline of mining along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Prospectors crossing the eastern slope in 1859 to "see the elephant"- that is, to search for gold - made a rich discovery at VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA. This huge gold and silver strike, later known as the Comstock Lode, started a wild rush to the surrounding high desert country.
By 1879 Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000, and was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and "the worst climate out-of-doors." One young girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: "Goodbye God, I'm going to Bodie." The phase came to be known throughout the West.
Murders occurred with frightening regularity, sometimes becoming almost daily events. The fire bell, which tolled the ages of the deceased when they were buried, rang often and long. Robberies, stage holdups and street fights were not surprising occurrences. The town's 65 saloons offered many opportunities for "relaxation" after a hard day of work in the mines. The Reverend F.M. Warrington saw Bodie in 1881 as "a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion."
Nearly everyone has heard about the infamous "Badman from Bodie." Badmen, like bad whiskey and bad climate, were well known in Bodie. That was then, and this is now. The streets of Bodie are very quiet now. Bodie still has its wicked climate, but all its badmen are in their graves.
Photographs taken by Neil Mishalov with a Canon SD-700is camera on 11 August 2007
Images Copyright © Neil Mishalov
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GPS data converter for Macintosh OSX by Load-My-Tracks.
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Tenaya Lake and Tenaya Peak (10,266 feet). Yosemite National Park. Heading to Bodie. Looking southeast.
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Dropping down Tioga Pass. The road on the pass drops from about 9,300 feet to about 6,700 feet. Nevada in the distance. Heading to Bodie. Looking east.
Panoramic photo of Lee Vining Canyon looking at the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada near Tioga Pass and Yosemite National Park. This is a view looking west. I camped in Lee Vining Canyon on my trip to Bodie.