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The Ghost Town of Bodie 

Located in the Eastern Sierra mountain range, is the ghost town of Bodie in California. Once a thriving gold mining town with enough crime to compete with other boom towns, it is now a National Historic Landmark and on many lists calling it one of America’s best ghost towns. It’s described as sitting in “arrested decay”. It appears much the way it did when the last of the remaining residents vacated soon after mining ceased in 1942. Items have purposely been left in their place, with park rangers and staff making sure that it all remains in tact.

Bumpy Ride

Getting to this national park is not a piece of cake. It’s out in the open, with no trees or civilization in sight. The last three miles of the winding road to get to the ghost town is unpaved and pretty bumpy. It’s hard to imagine what life was like to endure harsh winters with rugged mountains and little protection from the elements. (I know, people in Nebraska right now are laughing at me but I live in concrete and mountains. I consider heavy rain to be harsh.)

History of Bodie the Gold-Mining Town

Bodie was discovered in 1859 by William Bodey during the gold rush. Soon after, a mill was established in the town creating a community.  Families and saloon owners, ladies of the evening and priests all resided together.

There are conflicting reports as to why the spelling was changed. It was believed that the town intended to change the spelling to make sure the pronunciation would be correct.

The town was referenced by a reverend FM Warrington as, “a sea of sin.” It is well-noted that a little girl, whose family was moving to the booming town was quoted as saying, “Good, bye God, we’re going to Bodie” or, “Goodbye God, we’re going to Bodie. Both versions have been interpreted and debated. 

The Bodie Curse

Apparently, if a visitor removes anything from the site, they will have misfortune and bad luck until the item is returned. Rangers received mail from past visitors returning items with apology letters attached. 


In addition to “the curse,” ghost sightings were reported around town including the little girl who was accidentally killed when she was struck by a mining tool. A little white statue sits where she was buried and she allegedly appears around the statue in town. As reported, she is smiling and playing.

Another ghost well known in the town is that of a maid who had been having a fling with her businessman boss. The affair went on until his wife caught on and he ended the affair. Leaving the maid distraught and heartbroken, she took her own life in the house. These days, allegedly, a woman appears looking out of the window on the top floor of the Cain House. She’s notorious for turning the lights on and off, and scaring people with loud noises.

The Mendocini house is a haunted house I’d love to be in. It’s described as smelling like Italian food, with sounds of laughter, children playing, and a gathering. My kind of ghosts.

A legend well known from the town is The Bad Man of Bodie. Those were the days of  Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill, and Doc Holliday who became icons of American folk history. Fittingly, Bodie had the Bad Man of Bodie. 

If you love ghost towns put the ghost town of Bodie California on your list. It’s worth the bumpy ride!

Deeper Dive

The history of this town is extensive and worth digging into.  Some great websites to check out are: 

Location: Bodie is located 50 miles south of Lake Tahoe, in Mono County close to the town of Bridgeport. It is 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Highway 270. The last 3 miles of the road to Bodie is unpaved. Drive slowly and be sure your tires and shocks are up to snuff!

Updated March 2023.