After a full day of driving yesterday, we stopped in Reno to stay with our friend Scott. It was really good to see him and catch up. Devin had never been to Reno before, so it was fun to wander the streets downtown.
We crashed at Scott’s place last night to get ready for day 2 of our adventure. Our next destination was a place I had been wanting to check out for some time; Bodie, California.
This morning, Devin and I stopped at a little cafe for breakfast before venturing on to Bodie. We struck up a conversation with our waitress, and we told her about our plan to visit Bodie. She immediately perked up saying what a cool place it was, and that she remembered visiting there before it was a park and you could go inside all of the buildings. She also told us about the “curse of Bodie” that follows anyone who dares to take something from the park. She said she knew a woman who had taken a glass doorknob she had found on Bodie grounds, and the woman swore the doorknob brought her nothing but bad luck. After years of holding on to the doomed keepsake, she finally mailed it to the park services with an apology letter for taking it in the first place, and that she was hoping by returning it, the curse of Bodie would be lifted. Apparently this woman isn’t the only one to face the wrath of this curse, as there are stories online from others who have taken artifacts, and ended up sending a package and apology letter to the park services. It seems Bodie left behind some protective spirits.
We were giddy with excitement on the way up the final few miles of rough and bumpy gravel road. We had done quite a bit of research on Bodie before going, but it was even more amazing than I imagined! I apologize in advance for all the pictures, but there was so much to see! We spent four hours wandering around Bodie trying to see everything, and we could have easily spent the entire day there.
Bodie became a state park in 1962 when California State Parks purchased the town to help preserve it. At the entrance to the park you can purchase a booklet that has a map of the town, as well as the history of Bodie and some of the buildings still standing. According to the booklet, gold was discovered there in 1859 by William S. Bodey. In 1861, a mill was built and the town grew from about 20 miners to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880.
During 1877 – 1881, Bodie’s mining district included 30 different mines and 9 stamp mills. Along with miners and merchants, Bodie attracted a rougher crowd who gave the town a reputation of bad men and wild times. The boom years came and went quickly as unsuccessful mines began closing, and the population dwindled into the 1900’s. Mining in Bodie finally ended in 1942.
The State of California coined the term “arrested decay” to explain how it would preserve its Bodie State Historic Park. It means that nothing new can be constructed, but the buildings will not be allowed to deteriorate further. As we wandered the dirt roads and peered through dirty windows, our eyes were greeted with tattered curtains, wrought iron beds covered in dusty quilts, dishes sitting on lonely tables…it was an eerie reminder of what once was, as if Bodie is holding its breath for the return of its glory days.