32 Years in 52 Weeks – Bodie California

 

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Bodie. Let me tell you there’s nothing in that word that gives you a clue as to what you are in for.

Don and Lisa DeLucia Bodie

Bodie was named after Waterman S. Body, A.K.A. William S. Bodey, who discovered gold in 1859.  Bodey perished in a blizzard the following November while making a supply trip to Monoville (near present day Mono City, California), never getting to see the rise of the town that was named after him. The change in spelling of the town’s name has often been attributed to an illiterate sign painter, but it was a deliberate change by the citizenry to ensure proper pronunciation.

Bodie Circa 1890

The town 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. This huge gold strike, later known as the “Comstock Lode”, started a wild rush to the surrounding high desert country.

By 1879 Bodie boasted a population of  between 7000 and 8000 and was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and the worst climate out of doors.  Killing occurred with monotonous regularity sometimes becoming almost a daily event. Robberies, stage holdups and street fights provided variety, and the towns 65 saloons offered many opportunities for relaxation after the hard days work in the mines.

Bodie became a State Historic Park in 1962 and the policy of “arrested decay” is enforced on the site. Only about 5% of the glory of what was Bodie is left after the fires and is in phenomenal shape considering the elements it endures.

This was Lisa and my second trip to Bodie and the first that Dani and Josh will remember.  The other trip is documented here and was done in 1993.  You may want to compare the two to see any differences; or how the policy of “arrested decay” has helped or hindered the town.

After paying our entrance fee of $7 per person, we drove straight to the picnic area for lunch.  The place had not changed much, just a more modern pit toilet was added for the faint of heart (and nose) that didn’t want to use the more historic facilities.  We ate and admired the view of the Standard Mine all the while.

After we ate, we formulated our plan of attack which would be based on where we could park as the visitation was high and RV’s and rental cars dominated the parking lot. We decided to enter from the north side of town, which was near the picnic area.

Bodie did not disappoint us at all, however the weather did.  After 3 hours of touring the ghost town, and watching the weather deteriorate we ran to the car only to be greeted with a flash flood!  Having our Xterra, and running in 4-wheel high we had no problem getting past the nine miles of dirt road to the pavement, although we all wondered how many of the rental cars and RV’s that stubbornly stayed for the torrential downpour would make it out without issue.

 

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