During 20 years, people came to Bodie to get rich after gold was discovered in 1859, turning that small mining camp into a town of 6000 inhabitants and 2000 buildings. They also left quickly as more gold was discovered elsewhere and in 1920 only 120 of them and 200 buildings remained. In 1962, what was left of the ghost town needed to be protected against vandalism and so it became Bodie State Historic Park.
We reached our destination late in the afternoon, so we decided to spend the night in the car 3 km from the entrance and wait for the park to open the next morning. After admiring a beautiful lava red sunset, we grabbed a book and got comfortable in our sleeping bags. Bodie is pretty isolated because it’s 20 km from the main road but some cars still passed us by. Tourists or people working there going home, we thought. No big deal. But then a pick-up pulled over. He’s probably calling the cops to check our license plate and make sure we’re no drug dealers, we thought. No big deal. He waited 2 minutes and left. And then he came back! But that time he parked right next to our car. We pretended he wasn’t there and waited for him to get out of his truck and knock at our window but he didn’t move. He stayed there, doing I-don’t-know-what because I never looked at him, and 5 minutes later he was gone again. In a standard context it would be spooky but we were close to a ghost town so it kind of brought the spookiness to another level. Now someone will come and ask us to leave, we thought. Shit. But luckily no one came and at 9AM we were finally entering the ghost town.
When I imagined Bodie, I imagined us alone peering through broken windows and entering old houses, hearing nothing else than the wind and our footsteps. A bit like in the abandoned steel plant in Kladno, Czech Republic. But it was a lot different. Dozens of visitors arrived and something told me the town wasn’t totally a ghost town. Some houses had curtains and looked in a better shape than most of the others. I peeked in one them and saw what looked like a modern kitchen. I found out the rangers actually lived there. I also found out rabbits like to spend time in the buildings. The floor where covered with droppings.
Even though I really liked Bodie, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed it felt more like a recreation park than a ghost town. But I did have my instant of ghostly atmosphere when two ravens landed over one of the mining buildings and their low croaking sound was soon replaced by the sound of their wings flapping as they flew away.