The big trip was Tuesday, down to Bodie State Historic Park, a genuine California gold mine ghost town.
|First view of Bodie - four photos stitched together.|
First order of business, after a few pictures, was to watch a 30 minute movie about the history of the town. One thing was stressed in the film: Bodie was a wild and wicked mining camp for sure, but more than that, it was home to as many as 10,000 citizens (in 1879). It was a real home, where people went to church, joined the Masonic Lodge or the Odd Fellows. They had cultural events, they attended theater, they went to dances sponsored by the Miners Union. We were urged to remember this and to look on Bodie as a home as well as a wild west town with 65 saloons, a number of gambling halls, and a row of one-room cabins called "cribs" behind Main Street where the miners and others could spend the last of their money with the loose ladies!
|J.S. Cain residence. Cain was Bodie's principal property owner.|
|Kept in a state of "arrested decay."|
|The iconic view of Bodie: the Methodist Church, erected in 1882. The only other church in town was Catholic, also built in 1882 but destroyed by fire in 1928.|
Readers may also remember that I've had trouble with the knee that was replaced over a year ago, and walking is not always easy. With my handy walking stick (I hate to use the word "cane") I stumped around that town and its cemetery without a hitch.
Early in our visit, we were greeted by the local Ranger, whom we call Ranger Jim. He probably saw these two elderly handicapped individuals bravely facing the day and took us under his wing. Ranger Jim talked to us quite a while, pointing out this or that feature, making suggestions for easy access.
He pointed out the metal siding on many of the buildings, explaining that it was old tin cans, opened and flattened out, then nailed or screwed to the wooden walls. Winters get so cold in Bodie (down to minus 20 degrees) that the residents used anything they could get their hands on for insulation. Fruit and vegetable cans, oil cans, 5-gallon kerosene and gasoline cans from Carson City, big cans, little cans. Waste not, want not for sure!
When Suzy began to drive up the ramp to the boardwalk to get into the museum and visitors center, Ranger Jim jumped to help push her up the ramp (not necessary at all) and again up another ramp into the building itself. And when we exited, he was right there to guarantee that she would not drive straight off the edge of the boardwalk and crash to the ground below!
|Ranger Jim and Suzy in front of the Miners Union Building, now the visitors center and museum.|
Toward the end of our town visit (and before our picnic lunch and visit to the cemetery) we met up with Ranger Jim again. I commented that it sure would be delightful to be able to tour more of the old buildings; most of them are closed, but "through the window" views are available in some.
|Closed building, but note the large sheets from old tin cans.|
|Through the window" shot at a residence. I had to hold the camera tightly against the window glass.|
Then I commented that I had noticed a new roof on one of the buildings. He told me that their maintenance people continue to take necessary steps to preserve the buildings in a state of "arrested decay." We had heard that phrase the first time we visited Bodie with our kids some forty plus years ago. The town is kept in pretty much the shape it was in when the last residents left. Ranger Jim said that they do try to not even blow the dust off the artifacts inside. Visitors aren't allowed to touch them, and even the outdoor piles of rubbish are off limits. Nothing is to be moved from where it is found, certainly nothing is to be taken except photographs.
|Looking back into Bodie from the cemetery.|