When I am out and about exploring Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierras, sometimes I would make a side trip to Bodie, California’s own famous ghost town. It is conveniently located just off highway 395 on a slight detour on State Route 270 and represents a historical fraction of infamous “Wild Wild West.”
Which horse riding adventure-seeking cowboy can resist that?
I certainly can’t!
Bodie is an abandoned ghost town. It looks just like it did when the miners and gunslingers many years ago left it. It is located in a desolate and practically inhospitable place for those who are not native to the land.
Today, Bodie is a California State Historic Park – a whole gold-mining ghost town of the bygone Gold Rush era. It once held a population of nearly 10,000 people. Some honest miners, some merchants and traders, some are prostitutes, and some are horse stealing gunslingers.
The town’s moniker derived from William Bodey (Waterman S. Body), who discovered some gold in the hills of Mono Lake. Later, an accidental cave-in exposed to pay dirt, and subsequently led the Standard Company to purchase the mine in 1877. Fortune seekers then flocked to Bodie and turned the town into a booming mecca.
Strangely, William Body never got to see the town that was named after him as he died in a blizzard on a supply run to Monoville just months after discovering gold. This would become the grim fate of the town as well as the California Gold Rush wanes throughout history.
Parts of the town are well preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Some interiors remained stockpiled with canned goods and stocked with other supplies. Today, people do not come prospecting for gold but rather something more valuable – history and stories.
However, what about stories?
Ghost Stories, Yo!
It goes something like this. I have been to Bodie, countless times. I have become quite
familiar with the Park Rangers working there. On occasions, I would make some small talk, and random conversations with them and all their talk always lead to weird apparitions and random doors slamming seemingly without anybody present.
Now, these Rangers do live there. They live in one of the abandoned historic houses and are there well past when the sun goes down and when the park closes. Maybe, these Rangers have been perusing the peyote cactuses native in the area. Maybe they have been eating the wrong kind of mushrooms. Peyote cactus perhaps? Or maybe they’re celebrating California’s legalization of Cannabis. Who knows? Whatever the case, these weird apparitions, are not just any tall-tales being made up. To them is authentic. As real as you and I.
Historically, many people died in Bodie. They die from being shot, drinking too much, whoring too much, from the harsh elements, from diseases, from the god-awful outhouse latrines, and whatever hell everyone else had to endure before the invention of the smartphone.
Many souls were lost here
Near the end of the town’s inglorious history. Bodie even had some people die unexpectedly. This dude, Ed, a scoundrel shot his Indian wife in a drunken stupor – he shot one of her breasts off. Three, other scoundrels thought fuck; we can’t have this idiot get away with murder! They caught up to Ed and brought him to the creek to drown him.
A man named Ed once lived here and drowned in the creek for the murder of his wife
Ed’s spirit apparently could not rest from this injustice and decides to haunt the three murderers and shoot his spirit fist at them as a sign of a curse. The three later died of premature deaths from weird diseases.
The moral of the story here?
Do not mess with Ed
I’m serious. Imagine you have a 45 caliber six shooter and you’s tryin’ to shoot poor Ed. However, to your dismay. Your bullets would just come flying through old Ed’s apparition and you’re at the mercy of the ghastly fate that awaits you from the specter’s wrath. Do not mess with Ed.
Another place that the Rangers would often tell me where they see apparition is at the Gregory House, which is located near the stamp mill. An old woman apparition can sometimes be seen knitting a doll and rocking back and forth on a rocking chair. Sometimes the rocking chair would rock by itself without anyone being there.
If that is not creepy.
I do not know what is!
Granny, can work on her yarn project until the end of eternity all she wants. I don’t ever want to get near that house!
Another haunted place is the Mendocini house, and as you have guessed it, it is Italian in origin. The house was built by an Italian migrant where the park’s rangers now live in. Rangers say the spirits here are known to follow them around the house. Strange voices of children echo along the alleys and sometimes heard playing outside perhaps being curious about people living in the house.
No thank you, I am not going to touch that house with ten-foot Proton Pack!
If not all those houses were good enough to excite the hairs on the back of your neck, you could always go straight to Bodie Cemetery. Now this place gives me the creeps. Many deaths plagued Bodie’s early history. Many bodies are buried with only wooden grave markers to there name. A macabre reminder of the town’s violent early history.
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The elements have eradicated these markers, and there are many more graves that what the stone markers today show. A child and a woman in a white dress are seen in the graveyard as well as apparitions of Chinese migrants whose bones are scattered throughout, unmarked, in the graveyard.
Now, none of these so far seems to be bothering the living
However, the John S. Caine house, this one is a doozy. Cain, the wealthiest man in town, hired a Chinese house cleaner (housemaid). Creepy old Cain started seducing young housemaid and ended up becoming his mistress. His jealous wife did all she could to tarnish the maid reputation so much so that it lead to the maid killing herself. One of the rangers who lived in the house saw the bedroom door open by itself while he was lying on the bed. He felt a cold presence and then a heavy pressure and nearly suffocated.
If ghosts can physically manifest itself to inflict on the living physically, that is just crazy creepy!
How would you even defend yourself with something like that? Holy water? A cross? Three dozen Hail Marys.
How about just an old-fashioned. “You know who I am going to call?”
I am going to call The Ghostbusters!