Bodie Ghost Town | California Photo Spot

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Bodie California Ghostown-Photo by Eniko Polgar
Bodie California Ghostown-Photo by Eniko Polgar

A former mining town, Bodie is a remarkably well preserved Ghost Town that was once home to 10,000 pioneers chasing their gold-fueled dreams. Of all the ghost towns in the southwest, without a doubt, Bodie is the best preserved of them all. The Bodie Ghost Town is well preserved because it is now a California State Park. Located on the outskirts of Yellowstone, this ghost town is home to a methodist church, residences and shops and all the abandoned beauty you could imagine.

Bodie was established in 1861 after gold was discovered in the nearby hills. By 1880 a large stream had driven the town’s population up to its peak of 10,000 people. Several hundred of its residents were Chinese labourers who lived in a separate part of the town with its own tavern and shops. Once the gold supply was exhausted, the town’s population began to shrink. Following two devastating fires in 1892 and 1932 that ravaged 90% of the buildings, the city was all but abandoned. The last residents of Bodie left in the 1940s, and the ghost town was made a State Park in 1962.

Bodie opens to visitors at 9 am, and photographers should anticipate that there will be a line to see it during the peak summer months. Over 200,000 visitors stroll through Bodie each year to take in the sights, so arriving early or in the off-season is recommended. The park is well off the beaten path, so while visiting in winter after light snow may be a photographer’s dream shoot, the road to it may be impossible to navigate. Even if there are crowds, it is easy to avoid them by heading to the park’s far end when it opens. Also, bring cash to get in, there are no ATMs in the ghost town, and you won’t be able to swipe your credit card to pay the entrance fee.

Approximately 5% of the original town remains, but over 100 buildings remain to photograph and explore. Most are boarded up, but a few key ones are open to explore and make for great interior photographs. The decision to preserve rather than restore gives Bodie Ghost town an unmistakable authentic feel that you won’t find anywhere else.

(Bodie, California, USA)