Mike Chowla
Eastern Sierra June 2008:


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Bodie is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the west. In the late 1870's a profitable mining operation caused the town's population to explode. Unlike the typical gold rush stories of individual miners looking for gold, here the mines were investor owned and the miners employees. In order to attract miners to the remote location, the mines paid high wages. The town was notorious for its 65 saloons, brothels, opium dens, and gambling houses where those miners spent their earnings. The town not surprisingly earned a reputation as wild and lawless.

Today, Bodie is a state park and maintained in a state of arrested decay. Only a fraction of the town remains, much of it being lost to fire in the 1930s. Bodie is a fun visit but I didn't get a strong feeling of walking back in time. The buildings are there but perhaps because only a fraction of the town remains, my experience was more a glimpse of the past than a full immersion in it. As I discovered later at Masonic, I prefer my ghost towns to in a state of real rather than arrested decay.