CA Places: Bodie

Once a good-sized mining town, Bodie today is a ghost town preserved in a state of arrested decay.  Gold was discovered there in 1859, but it was not until 1875, when a mine cave-in revealed gold in quantity, that the town’s population expanded from 3,000 to about 10,000. It was named for the site’s 1859 discoverer, but the exact source remains unknown. That gold miner may have been W. S. Bodey, Waterman S. Bodey, or Wakeman S. Bodey.  At its peak Bodie boasted 40 to 50 mines on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of 8,375 feet.  It was a hard environment: blistering hot in the summers and buried in snow in the winters, and it was a rough town. Families, miners, and store owners co-existed with gunfighters, robbers, prostitutes, gambling halls, opium dens, and a reputed 65 saloons. Bodie’s gold boom ended in the early 1880s; it was designated as the official California State Gold Rush ghost town in 2002.  Located northeast of Yosemite about 13 miles off of Highway 395, the town’s buildings and contents remain as they were after the last resident departed.