Visiting the ghost town of Bodie was undoubtedly a highlight of our road trip around California. It was a unique experience full of surprises. Abandoned places are always intriguing to explore and Bodie is no exception. So apart from the fact that ghost towns are just really cool, why should you visit?
1. The Journey
No matter whether you’re coming from the north, south, east or west, the journey to Bodie Ghost Town will be unforgettable. Situated in the basin of the Sierra Navada mountain range the natural landscape in every direction is simply stunning. And besides, there’s nothing like that feeling of getting in your car and hitting the open road. Especially in the US where it seems everything is set up perfectly for a road trip.
We arrived at Bodie after a long day’s driving north along State Highway 395 from Death Valley. With the final 13 miles along largely unpaved and bumpy roads, it’s not the most comfortable ride. But it really feels like you’re visiting a long forgotten ghost town before you’ve even reached your destination. It’s a journey that will stay with me forever.
2. The Landscape
As you get closer to Bodie, it becomes more and more evident what a desolate and barren landscape the inhabitants had to contend with. I can only imagine the battle it must have been in the winter months. The shrubbery is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It really gives you a sense of life’s struggle at altitude.
At more than 8000 feet above sea level, Bodie can’t have been the most pleasant place to live at the best of times. That people came to Bodie in their thousands against the backdrop of such an unforgiving landscape is testament to the lure of fame and fortune during the great American gold rush.
3. The History
Once the second most populous town in the state of California, the history of Bodie’s rise and fall is a great example of boom and bust in a fascinating period of history. Although the number of buildings that survive to this day only represents a small fraction of what was once a thriving mining town, many significant structures remain.
The town jail, barber shop and methodist church are still in tact, and the mill itself dominates the hill-side. Be it cold blooded killers, unrelenting vigilante groups or arsonists holding a grudge, Bodie has so many stories to tell. Despite the empty streets you can really feel its history coming to life.
4. The Aura
Looking at the tired, old, and worn buildings it’s hard to believe that Bodie once used to be a flourishing town. But look a little closer and you’ll see signs of life being lived behind its shabby wooden exterior. Peering through misty, scratched glass at a roulette table that must have been left untouched by time for more than 100 years is something I will never forget. It’s mysterious, haunting and at times incredibly eerie.
People lived out their lives and then seemingly left in an instant, leaving most of their possessions behind. But why? Was everybody really here just for the money? How did the decay begin and what was it like to live here? The intrigue of a time past is impossible to escape.
5. The Preservation
As a direct result of the budget crisis in the State of California, state parks such as Bodie have been losing funding for many years. It’s my strong belief that looking after the world’s heritage is an incredibly important and worthy cause. By making a visit to the ghost town you can show your support for the efforts to preserve its history for future generations. If you’d like to find out more about preserving bodie you can visit the Bodie Foundation website for more details.
Have you visited Bodie Ghost Town? Or another abandoned location? How did they make you feel? Are there any other protected parks you think are worth visiting?
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