Bodie: The Wild West’s Most Photogenic Ghost Town

ghost-town-bodie-california-abandoned-3 (Image:, cc-sa-3.0)

The gold mining settlement of Bodie, California, is one of the most photographed – and most photogenic – ghost towns of America’s Old West. Now a historic park, Bodie is preserved in a state of ‘arrested decay’, reputedly haunted by the spirits of several departed locals, and open to tourists year-round.



ghost-town-bodie-california-abandoned-2 (Images: Claudine Frère, cc-sa-3.0-deMispahn, cc-4.0; DeeFabian, cc-sa-3.0)

Founded in 1876, the settlement was named after W.S. Bodey, one of several prospectors who discovered small gold reserves in the hills above Mono Lake. Around that time, when the Standard Company struck a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, Bodie was transformed from an isolated mining camp into a Wild West boomtown.




ghost-town-bodie-california-abandoned-5 (Images: Public Domain PhotosMispahn, cc-4.0; JLeditor, cc-sa-3.0)

All manner of people flocked to the windswept settlement to seek their fortune digging for gold, and it wasn’t long before Bodie had amassed a population of almost 10,000 people.


ghost-town-bodie-california-abandoned-6 (Images:, public domain; Daniel Mayer, cc-sa-3.0)

Perhaps not surprisingly, trouble and strife were never far away, as interests clashed, tempers flared and shootouts inevitably occurred.



bodie-ghost-town-abandoned-house-4 (Images: Public Domain Photos)

But by the early 20th century Bodie was in decline, and mining profits were at an all time low by 1914. A year later the settlement was officially declared a ghost town, though the last mine lingered on until 1942. Finally, in 1962, the ghost town became Bodie State Historic Park.


bodie-ghost-town-abandoned-house-6 (Images: Public Domain Photos)

Today visitors can walk the streets of this once rough and exciting boomtown. Around 110 buildings, including houses, stores and saloons, have survived in a state of arrested decay, their interiors eerily intact and stocked with goods and furniture – some of them just as they were left when the last residents moved out more than 50 years ago.

Keep Reading – Explore 20 Haunting Ghost Towns of the World



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