We love ghost towns so much. It probably started when we were younger and used to hunt for abandoned mine shafts in the Arizona desert and visit places like Calico and Oatman. So yes, we're always griping about the cutesy, potpurried and logo-sweatshirt-selling gift shop aspect of most "ghost towns" you can visit without having to get a 4x4 and a gps and here's why. Bodie. Even though it's a State Historic Park, it's been left almost completely untouched (or at least it feels that way), having been preserved in a state of "arrested decay" when it was taken over by the state in 1962. Only a small part of the original town still stands, but it's huge compared to most ghost towns, with full streets of houses and stores, mines up on the hill and the remains of a cemetery. The day we were there it was so cold and windy there wasn't a single person around (not even a ranger) to remind us that we hadn't simply stumbled upon something all of our own.
Established in the 1860's Bodie hummed around the silver and gold mines and wasn't fully abandoned until the 1940's.
The thing that makes Bodie really neat is seeing so many relics lying around in the dust. Old tin cans and rusted bits of metal, pickaxes and miner's shoes. My pops even found a pair of mother of pearl cuff links once. State park rules forbid taking anything from Bodie, but most people leave the treasures alone on account of the Bodie Curse (which warrants a capital C due to its scope and magnitude). Packages arrive regularly at the mail station in Bridgeport, bearing "souvenirs" taken from the park, as well as letters describing the senders' misfortunes, usually along the lines of "Please find enclosed one weather beaten old shoe. After I heard about the curse I started to think about my car accident, and then the illness and losing my job, not to mention having to put Old Sammy down because of the rabies and all that, and then when the wife left I knew it was time to send this thing along." or simply "Ahhhhh! Enough already---here's your nail back!".
The "Angel of Bodie", supposedly killed when she was accidentally struck by a miner's pick axe.
Want to see for yourself? The ghost town of Bodie is located 13 miles off Hwy 395 at the end of a partly dirt, partly paved road near the town of Bridgeport. When the Tioga Pass is open you can take Hwy 120 east through Yosemite to the junction of the 395 and then go north, otherwise you can take the 395 south from Reno or Carson City. Keep in mind that the road to Bodie closes during winter weather, at which point the ghost town becomes accessible only by off road vehicles and cross-country skis.