I love Ghost Towns and I thought I’d take you on a tour of Bodie for my Fun Friday post.
Bodie is located in California and it was once a mining town. In 1876, a freak cave-in at the Bunker Hill Mine exposed a rich body of gold ore. This marked the gold rush for Bodie. Overnight the town grew, and by 1878, the ramshackle cabins were surrounded by over 600 buildings.
Bodie attracted all kinds of people in its boom-town years. Gold and silver were plentiful and there were jobs that paid well, but what Bodie lacked was comfortable living. Bodie didn’t have hospitals, churches, or theaters. The town had poor housing, too. Some of the people still lived in tents surrounding the hills. There was a limited water supply, no sanitary regulations, and on top of it all, the climate was harsh.
Many of the men took their comfort in the saloons and the red-light district. Many of the ladies of the night turned to the opium dens, but they weren’t the only ones who frequented such places. The rich would indulge, becoming opium fiends, as they were often called.
Like many mining camps, Bodie also earned a reputation for violence and lawlessness. If you had an idea of the wild and woolly west, Bodie would be it. The streets were always busy, day and night. Stagecoaches brought fresh grist for the Bodie mill and they left with bullion.
The law consisted of deputies appointed by the sheriff in the county seat located miles away. A boisterous crowd roamed the streets with gunfights daily, but the violence was contained to the red-light district and saloons. If the families stayed out of the danger spots, they weren’t bothered. A resident there at the time stated that even the worst characters were decent to women and children.
The town jail still stands in Bodie. In 1881, the bail was set at five dollars for any resident. Joseph DeRouche was the only prisoner who escaped from the jail, but his freedom was short lived. The residents formed the “601 Vigilante Committee” and went after DeRouche. They apprehended him at Goat Ranch and returned him to town where they hanged him at midnight.
Bodie’s best years were from 1879 to 1882. The boom ended and the population fell from 10,000 to around 2000. By 1890, there were only around 1000 people left, but Bodie didn’t become a ghost town until 1914 when all mining stopped during World War I.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of Bodie!
Come by on the 4th Friday of the month for another ghost tour.
Karen Michelle Nutt
Author of time travel and otherworldly tales.
Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all my stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.