A Ghost Town in the Mountains

Martine in Bodie, California, by Old Gas Pumps

During this awful quarantine year (soon to become the awful quarantine decade), I keep thinking back to the places I’ve been. Just to maintain social distancing, most of my favorite destinations in the U.S. and Latin America are severely curtailed. One of my favorite places along U.S. 395 is the ghost town of Bodie, California midway between Mono Lake and the Mono County Seat of Bridgeport.

There is nothing Disneyfied about Bodie. It was abandoned over a period of years, during which people just left their stuff behind them because it was just too difficult to cart away. That includes coffins, hearses, dishes, furniture, and all manner of things.

Horse-Drawn Hearse Left Behind

Unlike many other ghost towns, Bodie is run as a park in which the buildings and mining equipment are in a state of “arrested decay,” in which repairs ae made to prevent roofs and walls from falling in. The exception is for several houses which are kept up for State Park rangers and their families who stay year-round to protect the premises.

The cemetery at Bodie is one of my favorite features of the town. Life in Bodie could be nasty, brutish, and short, as attested by the tombstones.

One Little Girl Who Died Young

Part of the reason for the high mortality rate among the residents were the horrible winters. The altitude of Bodie is 8,375 feet (2,553 meters). It is some twenty-odd miles from the main highway and is susceptible to blizzards and high winds. And that’s besides the usual Old West killers as alcohol, gunfights, and mining accidents.