If you’ve ever seen the movie The Hills Have Eyes you may well get the shivers when thinking about an abandoned old town amongst the mountains. Well one exists in America and it’s called Bodie, located on the Eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.
It was built after a man called W. S. Bodey from New York discovered Gold in the hills back in 1859. Unfortunately for him he died only several months after his discovery and never lived to see his town take shape. The town’s name came to be spelled ‘Bodie’.
But it wasn’t until the year 1875 when a mine collapsed and revealed a rich body of gold ore that the ‘gold rush’ boom really happened. Miners and merchants flocked to the town numbering close to 8000 people at its peak, building 30 separate mines and 9 stamp mills.
As well as the ordinary shops and services you’d expect to find in a small town including a post office, bank, hotel and even a school – Bodie also had its far share of entertainment to live up to it’s reputation of being in the ‘Wild West’. This included up to 60 saloons, opium dens in Chinatown and Bonanza Street – famous for prostitutes.
The bubble did eventually burst with unsuccessful mines beginning to close; the population began to quickly drop in the 1900s as a result. And due to the War Production Board order L-208, shutting down all nonessential gold mines in the United States, the last mine closed for good in 1942.
In 1962, California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the historic buildings and artefacts.
Today tourists can walk around the half decaying ruins, peer in the windows to see the remains of what people left behind. From jackets hanging on the back of doors to snooker cues left lying on tables. You half expect to see someone walk out one of the rooms you are looking into as you can easily picture people living here.
You have to pay a fee around $8 to get in and it’s closed at night, which is no bad thing as you wouldn’t want to stay passed sunset. Who knows who you’d bump into then…