Wild West Life on at California’s Ghost Towns

The Wild West and the mining of the late 1800’s are a rich aspect of California’s heritage, and what improved way to working experience the earlier than to visit California’s ghost cities? The Golden State’s ghost cities are additional about historical past than spooks, and you’ll invest several hours exploring each nook and cranny of in some cases dusty aged structures in different states of disrepair or restoration. Listed here are two distinctive examples to get you begun.


Just about the time the generate from Los Angeles to Las Vegas will get a minimal monotonous, up comes the Interstate 15 exit to Calico Ghost City – a halt well worth generating that will give you a probability to extend your legs and find out a minimal California historical past at the very same time.

This is a true ghost city, even though not the terrifying style and seriously as substantially an amusement park as a historic dig. Some of the initial city has been refurbished, some re-manufactured, and some structures created just for travellers. The city was carved out of the vibrant hills of the Mojave Desert back again in 1881 and these days features a fascinating glimpse of what life may have been like for the borax and silver miners of the nineteenth Century.

If Calico appears to be in some spots a minimal like sections of Knott’s Berry Farm, it is due to the fact Calico was when owned by Walter Knott, the well-known amusement park’s founder. He gave the property to San Bernardino County in 1966 and it has because become a regional park complete with its individual historian and quite a few reliable structures and furnishings. Mixed in with the historical past is a good deal of commerce – from eateries to crafts stores to reward stores – that caters to the busloads of travellers who come across this a hassle-free halt 50 percent way between L.A. and Vegas.

This ghost city is not dusty and filthy like less produced spots that still have grime roadways and sagebrush tumbling by city. The streets are paved, the trails are well-marked and the historic reveals each individual have descriptions that assist you get a perception of what you are observing. The bordering hills supply a scenic backdrop and you commence to realize this area was named Calico for a explanation blue, red, gray, environmentally friendly, vermilion, brown and yellow can be viewed in patches alongside the craggy hillsides.

Like most ghost cities, Calico was when a bustling area in which prospectors came to come across their riches in the mines. Each silver and borax ended up taken from additional than 500 neighborhood mines. This created it achievable for the city to improve to additional than one,200 men and women and sustain quite a few neighborhood businesses – such as 22 saloons. When the price of silver was slash in 50 percent, the town’s hay days ended up around and the inhabitants at some point moved absent.

We put in a pair of several hours in Calico, in which Main Avenue is a enjoyable stroll of perhaps four metropolis blocks, each individual packed with historic attractions, merchants and surprises. For instance, you can visit the Calico Jail, in which Calico’s gunfighters ended up hauled off to serve time. There is a visitor’s heart that incorporates classic photos, historic newspapers and interpretive products to assist you recognize the town’s historical past. There is a area to do some gold panning and a further named the Mystery Shack – as you may count on from a person named Knotts. Program to have your lunch at Lil’s Saloon – practically nothing extravagant to try to eat here, but just outside of all those swinging saloon doorways is a bar that appears to be like it came out of a Hollywood Western. And, sure, family members are welcome.

There aren’t any true amusement park rides, but there is a coal educate you can ride on a limited loop though acquiring a historical past lesson from the train’s engineer. We also appreciated stepping into a re-created mine shaft in which you can get a perception of the darkness and claustrophobia beneath the mountain – and do it safely. There is a house created of bottles and numerous other oddities that are pleasurable to arrive across. You are going to see miners’ houses carved out of the hillsides, and a wide range of absolutely free-standing Aged West fashion structures.

If you still will need a minimal additional assist imagining what the Wild West was seriously like, the town’s modern working day “gunfighters” will oblige with shoot-outs and demonstrations on Main Avenue.

The Calico Ghost City is just northeast of Barstow and, due to the fact we ended up going to in late afternoon, we made a decision to remain around. We ended up pleasantly amazed by the accommodations available at the new Holiday getaway Inn Specific which offered shockingly upscale rooms and an total experience that was modern and pleasing, with gorgeous desert views proper out the window.

If you’re touring by RV, Calico features campsites proper on the park property.

For additional details on Calico Ghost City, cellphone one-800-TO-CALICO or visit www.calicotown.com.


If you’re searching for a California ghost city that is a minimal less industrial, the state has served to restore the city of Bodie on the japanese edge of the Sierra Nevada selection. This a person will be a minimal tougher to get to and will require a good deal additional walking. But it will be well worth it.

If you believed all those underwater pictures of the Titanic ended up at when haunting and mesmerizing, Bodie provides you the very same emotion. Just as you imagined what life need to have been like in all those past fateful several hours of the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, a seem inside of the quite a few remaining structures at Bodie will stir you to ponder just how life had been during all those many years back again in the 1880s when Bodie was bustling with 10,000 souls.

In 1859, gold was discovered near this city by Waterman S. Physique and townspeople paid out homage to Physique by naming the city right after him with a person slight variation: The inhabitants ended up worried that Physique would be pronounced as it is spelled so they changed the spelling to Bodie.

As mining on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada went into drop, miners crossed the mountains to lookup for other sources of gold and, soon, with the discovery of such deposits as the famed Comstock Lode at Virginia Town, this complete space east of the mountains began to surge with the influx of miners.

By all accounts, it was wild, raucous form of existence during the 1880’s as miners and other inhabitants indulged by themselves at the sixty five saloons that had sprung up all around city. Killings ended up explained to be an virtually every day prevalence. In accordance to the park service, Bodie was also the scene of quite a few robberies, phase holdups and avenue fights. Together Bonanza Avenue, Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley, women of the evening set up a row of a person-space cabins named “cribs.”

Possessing go through all the tales about Bodie, we ended up primed to see just what was left of this city and its vibrant earlier. The country road to Bodie is obviously marked on US 395 just south of Bridgeport, and our anticipation grew with each individual of the 13 winding miles. Together the way we could see in our rearview mirrors the panoramic views of the Sierra selection that turned additional and additional stunning as we climbed nearer to Bodie’s eight,300-foot elevation.

Then, at the top rated of the quality and just around a corner, there stood Bodie. From a length it didn’t seem like a complete city but instead a good deal of random out-structures spread around a number of modest hills. Then, as we came nearer, the structures began to consider shape – a church and steeple at the edge of city, a number of remarkably well preserved properties, and then a number of larger sized Main Avenue structures that looked like they had been developed for a Western movie – except this was the authentic thing. This was a authentic city in which authentic cowboys had authentic gunfights.

It’s possible it is due to the fact we’re additional accustomed to going to movie lots and phony western cities, but someway we weren’t quite prepared for our initial glimpse into a person of these structures – which occurred to be the aged Methodist Church. There, coated in a thick layer of dust, ended up the hand-carved pews, the pulpit and an ornate pipe organ. It appeared that, with just a bit of a scrub down, this church could be completely ready to host a congregation this coming Sunday.

And that is when the Titanic impact begun to kick in. We had arrive to see the structures of a city that had its hay working day additional than a hundred many years in the past, but someway we had not realized that this historic park was substantially additional than a set of structures – quite a few of all those structures are, in truth, mini-museums still housing the artifacts of the working day. In some situations, it appears to be like the inhabitants just received up and left a person working day, but didn’t consider just about anything with them.

To find out additional about Bodie Point out Historic Park, phone 760-647-6445 or visit www.parks.ca.gov. On the net, you can also visit www.bodie.com, in which the Close friends of Bodie provide quite a few additional details about the city.

exit to Calico Ghost City