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  • Bodie, the best ghost town in California

    photo by Thomas.fanghaenel

    photo by Thomas.fanghaenel

    If you’re one of those people who lived for western movies in their childhood, I’m sure you still remember what it felt like to be glued to the TV screen while some cocky cowboy strolled into a saloon, or when bandits with weird accents tried to rob some minuscule bank in a typically western small town.

    Well, as an adult, you can visit the real life versions of these little towns, although their residents won’t really be around…ghost towns abound in California, and Bodie is widely known as the best preserved ghost town in the state, and the most visited one. Here’s a quick guide to Bodie, the best ghost town in California.


    Bodie is located 12 miles from Bridgeport, and nowadays it is a National Historic Landmark. Of course, the town’s is history is typical for mining towns, but not what you’d call boring. Bodie started out as an insignificant mining camp in 1959, but when some rich gold-bearing gold deposits were discovered in the 1870’s, the little town started to flourish. In its heyday, Bodie had no less than 65 saloons, and a very profitable (if highly illicit) red-light district.

    The town had a Chinatown and a Taoist temple too, and quite a few opium dens, but several churches too.However, in the 1910, Bodie started to show signs of decline, and in 1915 is officially became a ghost town. In 1961 it became a National Historic Landmark, and today more or less 170 buildings survive.


    photo by Daniel Mayer

    While Bodie is as authentic a Wild West town as can be, the town is preserved in a state of arrested decay. Visitors can roam the streets as they see fit, and the interiors were preserved, but not exactly restored (the buildings whose interiors were restored are not open, but you can sneak a peek through the windows).

    The best time to visit it is in the summer, because in winter the road that leads to Bodie is sometimes closed down due to snow. Bodie Cemetary is one of the most interesting places in the town, and it has over 80 headstones dating back to the 1800s.

    The buildings of the town offer a pretty good sense of what Bodie used to look like in its glory days. You can walk past (and even go inside) the countless saloons and brothels. The Main Street is over a mile long and it used to house most of the town’s businesses. Nowadays, the only store that is still working is the bookshop, where you can buy books about Bodie’s history, as well as maps for self-guided tours.

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