Wild West Lives on at California’s Ghost Cities

The Wild West and the mining of the late 1800’s are a abundant component of California’s heritage, and what superior way to encounter the earlier than to visit California’s ghost towns? The Golden State’s ghost towns are far more about history than spooks, and you are going to spend hrs exploring each and every nook and cranny of often dusty previous structures in various states of disrepair or restoration. Right here are two unique illustrations to get you begun.


Just about the time the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas receives a tiny monotonous, up comes the Interstate fifteen exit to Calico Ghost City – a end well worth generating that will give you a probability to stretch your legs and learn a tiny California history at the identical time.

This is a genuine ghost town, even though not the scary variety and definitely as considerably an amusement park as a historic dig. Some of the authentic town has been refurbished, some re-manufactured, and some structures made just for tourists. The town was carved out of the colorful hills of the Mojave Desert back in 1881 and today features a fascinating glimpse of what existence may have been like for the borax and silver miners of the 19th Century.

If Calico looks in some areas a tiny like pieces of Knott’s Berry Farm, it’s since Calico was when owned by Walter Knott, the popular amusement park’s founder. He gave the home to San Bernardino County in 1966 and it has due to the fact turn out to be a regional park complete with its own historian and numerous genuine structures and furnishings. Combined in with the history is a fantastic deal of commerce – from eateries to crafts stores to gift stores – that caters to the busloads of tourists who locate this a practical end 50 percent way involving L.A. and Vegas.

This ghost town is not dusty and filthy like significantly less made areas that however have dust streets and sagebrush tumbling by town. The streets are paved, the trails are properly-marked and the historic reveals each individual have descriptions that assistance you get a feeling of what you are viewing. The surrounding hills deliver a scenic backdrop and you start to recognize this place was termed Calico for a explanation blue, red, grey, environmentally friendly, vermilion, brown and yellow can be found in patches along the craggy hillsides.

Like most ghost towns, Calico was when a bustling place where prospectors came to locate their riches in the mines. Each silver and borax were taken from far more than five hundred neighborhood mines. This designed it attainable for the town to develop to far more than one,200 folks and sustain numerous neighborhood firms – such as 22 saloons. When the price tag of silver was cut in 50 percent, the town’s hay days were in excess of and the residents sooner or later moved absent.

We spent a few of hrs in Calico, where Major Street is a enjoyable stroll of maybe 4 town blocks, each individual packed with historic attractions, suppliers and surprises. For instance, you can visit the Calico Jail, where Calico’s gunfighters were hauled off to serve time. There is a visitor’s middle that consists of classic images, historic newspapers and interpretive elements to assistance you realize the town’s history. There is a place to do some gold panning and a further termed the Thriller Shack – as you may assume from a guy named Knotts. System to have your lunch at Lil’s Saloon – nothing at all fancy to consume here, but just over and above individuals swinging saloon doors is a bar that looks like it came out of a Hollywood Western. And, yes, households are welcome.

There are not any genuine amusement park rides, but there is a coal teach you can ride on a quick loop when receiving a history lesson from the train’s engineer. We also relished stepping into a re-made mine shaft where you can get a feeling of the darkness and claustrophobia less than the mountain – and do it safely. There is a residence designed of bottles and many other oddities that are enjoyment to appear across. You’ll see miners’ houses carved out of the hillsides, and a range of absolutely free-standing Previous West type structures.

If you however want a tiny far more assistance imagining what the Wild West was definitely like, the town’s fashionable working day “gunfighters” will oblige with shoot-outs and demonstrations on Major Street.

The Calico Ghost City is just northeast of Barstow and, since we were viewing in late afternoon, we made a decision to remain in excess of. We were pleasantly amazed by the accommodations offered at the new Holiday getaway Inn Specific which made available remarkably upscale rooms and an overall experience that was fashionable and satisfying, with gorgeous desert sights proper out the window.

If you’re traveling by RV, Calico features campsites proper on the park home.

For far more details on Calico Ghost City, cellphone one-800-TO-CALICO or visit www.calicotown.com.


If you’re on the lookout for a California ghost town that is a tiny significantly less industrial, the point out has served to restore the town of Bodie on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range. This a single will be a tiny tougher to get to and will require a great deal far more strolling. But it will be well worth it.

If you assumed individuals underwater photographs of the Titanic were at when haunting and mesmerizing, Bodie offers you the identical emotion. Just as you imagined what existence must have been like in individuals past fateful hrs of the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, a seem inside of the numerous remaining structures at Bodie will stir you to ponder just how existence experienced been for the duration of individuals many years back in the eighties when Bodie was bustling with ten,000 souls.

In 1859, gold was found out near this town by Waterman S. Human body and townspeople paid out homage to Human body by naming the town immediately after him with a single slight variation: The residents were involved that Human body would be pronounced as it is spelled so they altered the spelling to Bodie.

As mining on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada went into drop, miners crossed the mountains to search for other resources of gold and, soon, with the discovery of these deposits as the famed Comstock Lode at Virginia City, this complete spot east of the mountains commenced to surge with the influx of miners.

By all accounts, it was wild, raucous sort of existence for the duration of the 1880’s as miners and other residents indulged themselves at the 65 saloons that experienced sprung up all in excess of town. Killings were reported to be an just about each day prevalence. In accordance to the park services, Bodie was also the scene of numerous robberies, stage holdups and street fights. Together Bonanza Street, Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley, ladies of the night established up a row of a single-space cabins termed “cribs.”

Obtaining go through all the stories about Bodie, we were primed to see just what was remaining of this town and its colorful earlier. The region road to Bodie is obviously marked on US 395 just south of Bridgeport, and our anticipation grew with each individual of the thirteen winding miles. Together the way we could see in our rearview mirrors the panoramic sights of the Sierra range that grew to become far more and far more impressive as we climbed closer to Bodie’s 8,three hundred-foot elevation.

Then, at the major of the grade and just all-around a corner, there stood Bodie. From a distance it did not seem like a complete town but rather a great deal of random out-structures spread in excess of a number of modest hills. Then, as we came closer, the structures commenced to take condition – a church and steeple at the edge of town, a number of remarkably properly preserved homes, and then a number of greater Major Street structures that appeared like they experienced been developed for a Western film – other than this was the actual point. This was a actual town where actual cowboys experienced actual gunfights.

Maybe it’s since we’re far more accustomed to viewing film plenty and fake western towns, but someway we weren’t really prepared for our first glimpse into a single of these structures – which happened to be the previous Methodist Church. There, lined in a thick layer of dust, were the hand-carved pews, the pulpit and an ornate pipe organ. It seemed that, with just a bit of a scrub down, this church could be all set to host a congregation this coming Sunday.

And that is when the Titanic outcome begun to kick in. We experienced appear to see the structures of a town that experienced its hay working day far more than a hundred many years ago, but someway we experienced not realized that this historic park was considerably far more than a established of structures – numerous of individuals structures are, in simple fact, mini-museums however housing the artifacts of the working day. In some conditions, it looks like the residents just obtained up and remaining a single working day, but did not take anything with them.

To learn far more about Bodie State Historic Park, simply call 760-647-6445 or visit www.parks.ca.gov. On-line, you can also visit www.bodie.com, where the Buddies of Bodie supply numerous far more specifics about the town.

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