Mono County Points of Interest
Bodie is probably the finest mining ghost town in the West.
The Bodie Mining District was organized in 1860, but mining was initially limited by harsh terrain and lack of water. From 1860 to 1877, Bodie polled some twenty votes a year. In 1865 the town had fourteen small frame and adobe houses.
Quartz discoveries touched off a gold rush to Bodie in 1878. 250 wooden buildings were built. The population increased to more than ten thousand.
Bodie was notorious throughout the West for its gambling houses, brothels, opium dens, breweries and saloons. Nightly shootings and stabbings and brawls earned Bodie the nickname, Shooters Town. A "Bad Man from Bodie" became slang for a particularly unpleasant individual. When one young girl learned that her family was moving from San Francisco to Bodie, she wrote in her diary: "Goodbye, God, I'm going to Bodie".
Bodie reached its pinnacle in 1879. The main street was over a mile long and built solidly with one and two-story frame buildings. In 1881, a narrow gauge railroad was constructed from Mono Lake to Bodie to carry in fuel and lumber.
By 1883, the boom was over. All but the Bodie Mine and Standard Mine closed down. In 1895, Bodie had a small revival when the cyanide process of recovering gold was put in use.
Mining continued intermittently up to World War II, when Bodie finally became a true ghost town.
At its peak, between 1878 and 1883, Bodie had 250 to 300 buildings. In 1893, a fire destroyed most of the business section on Main Street. Only a few brick buildings escaped destruction. The business district was rebuilt on a smaller scale.
In 1932, a second holocaust swept the business district and only a few brick buildings survived. This time, the business section was not rebuilt. The section still stands on a much reduced scale.
The residential section of Bodie, including churches and schools, was untouched by these disasters. Over one hundred dwellings remain, many with original curtains, shades and furniture.
There are some forty abandoned mines around the edge of town.
Source: Adapted from the NRHP Nomination submitted in 1966
Bodie Historic District is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark 341.