Gold rush town of Bodie & the Yosemite National Park

Bodie – 150 year old gold mining town

Bodie is a historical site located in California just to the east of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  High in the Bodie Hills (8300ft, 2,500m approx), this site was established in 1859 as a mining camp set up by a W.S. Bodey who died the year after.  Yields weren’t that great in the early years and it wasn’t until 1876 that the Standard Company discovered a significant quantity of gold (which also coincided with the official foundation of the town).  By 1879, the town was home to roughly 5,000 residents and 2,000 buildings/structures.  A prosperous town through the late 1880s, a decline was inevitable.
Fast forward many years to 1912 when the local newspaper stopped publication and the town’s depopulation continued.  During the 1940s, an effort to preserve the town started and it received state park status in the 1960s.
As you may know, I tried to visit Bodie early in 2012 however was thwarted by the snow on the ground.  When there is snow fall, the road to Bodie from the main highway (CA-395) is closed (a fact not published on their state park website).  This road starts off with 10 miles of windy paved road followed by three miles of a dirt road.  During my visit, the only hazard was from the dust and stones thrown up by other vehicles.

Town detritus

As a town that expanded rapidly and shrunk over time, there’s a lot of junk left behind – pipes, engines, tools, machine parts, large furnaces and the list goes on.  Some “modern”, hailing from the 1920s, some much older.
Abandoned engine
It’s interesting to walk around and find everyday items as well as odd things scattered everywhere as though some passing giant had emptied out a sack of parts.  There are also several places where decaying hoses can be find and you can clearly see the layers of materials that made them up.

Remains of a mine wheel


Bodie, as a well established town in the 1880s had numerous stores selling pretty much anything the miners and their dependents needed to survive.  Mining supplies, household supplies, items for making and maintaining clothing and the normal assortment of odds and sods.

General store
Sewing supplies
Lamps and other items
Boone Store and warehouse

Of interest also is that the town jail was reported to be constructed of wood like most of the buildings, however the company store was built of brick to protect the precious goods that were both necessary to the inhabitants, but also profitable for the Company.  Apparently breaking out of jail was easier than breaking in to steal some beans.

General store


The Methodist Church was built at the height of the town’s prosperity in 1882 (a Catholic Church was also built but burned down in 1930).

Methodist Church

Inside the Methodist Church


The Bodie Firehouse was the sole official site for fire containment – although around the town I did see various hydrants.  I suspect these were added much later though (probably late 19th century).

Inside the fire house


Miscellaneous items

Typical town home
McDonald House and the Methodist Church

 The machine in the centre of the picture below was unique as an electrical motor powered by a generator many miles away and thus the first to be powered by electricity supplied via transmission lines.

Museum display


Bodie street scene

IOOF Hall, Miners Union Hall, Morgue (left to right)


On the way back to civilization, I drove through Yosemite.  Here’s some pictures 🙂  I didn’t stop for long, wanting to get back to the Bay Area quickly.

Categories: Bodie Yosemite


  1. It is amazing how well-preserved those towns in a dry climate are. Most of those buildings would have been long gone by now if they were around here.

    Did you make the theme for your blog? You are making me think that I need to do some work on the theme for my blog instead of using one of the defaults.

  2. Actually I chose one of their templates and modified it only with some layout items and background photo.

    Certainly the climate helps with the preservation – it's amazing how good some of these buildings look.

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