Monday, August 8, 2011
Photo Essay: Bodie Ghost Town
I love a good abandoned building, so imagine my glee at a whole town full of them.
But for a ghost town to truly be experienced authentically, it can't be full of people.
Bodie, a former gold mining camp-now-state park in the Eastern Sierras near the Nevada border, is full of people - hundreds of parents, their children, and their dogs. (There are also some free-range cattle that have figured out how to get through a hole in the fence.)
To escape the crowds, I climbed up the hill to the hazardous warning fence and get some good shots of the buildings, burned by fire in 1939, abandoned in 1942, and preserved in the 1960s in their current condition.
My timing was perfect to jump on a guided tour with a ranger that got me past that fence, not only straight into the hazardous area, but straight into one of the hazardous buildings: the old stamp mill, whose equipment is still in place, functional, and extremely dangerous. With an exterior constructed of metal, it survived Bodie's last fire relatively unscathed (unlike its predecessor, which burned to the ground in Bodie's first big fire).
Its water tanks weren't so lucky.
The interior is dark, dusty, smelly, and shadowy, with water-warped floors, uneven stairs, low clearance doorways, and wires and belts hanging from the ceiling everywhere.
Bodie plays a key role in California's gold mining history, so it stands to reason it would be so popular. It's interesting, and huge.
I just prefer my ghost towns to be a bit more...ghostly.
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