The Curse of Bodie

Last winter, Mom and I fired up the time machine (which looks suspiciously like my dad’s suburban) and explored the Wild West. Bodie State Historic Park is an original ghost town from the California gold rush, frozen in a state of “arrested decay”.

The 13 mi road from Highway 395 was covered in ice, then dirt, and dropped off one side at a steep cliff. To calm her fear of heights, Mom read me the entire history of the old mining town, which goes a little something like this.

In 1859, William S. Bodey discovered gold in the hills north of Mono Lake. Several months later, he froze to death during a blizzard. Some luck! In 1875, the Standard Mill Company purchased the mine after it caved in, exposing a valuable body of gold. The surrounding town was named after the original miner. At some point, the spelling changed to “Bodie,” which may have been a sign painter’s mistake that stuck or an effort to ensure proper pronunciation.

As word of riches spread, Bodie exploded in population to 10,000 by 1880. Men were murdered or killed daily, giving residents a reputation for being the “Bad Men of Bodie.” The town catered to miners who wanted to spend their earnings after a hard day of work in brothels, gambling halls and opium dens. (Source:

Mom and I wandered the streets of Bodie, peering into dusty windows. The residents seem to have disappeared all at once, leaving everything just as it was. In the school house, the desks were covered in layers of dust. In the stores, jars still lined the shelves. And in the homes, curtains hung in the windows and wall paper peeled from the walls.

According to legend, ghosts keep a close watch, plaguing anyone who removes an artifact with the dreaded “Curse of Bodie.” Stolen objects have actually been returned to the museum, along with desperate pleas to the spirits for forgiveness. (Read more: Urban Ghost Media)

We only captured a few memories with our cameras on our trip back in time. This place has a strict policy: Leave no trace, OR ELSE!

To get there from U.S. 395, take State Route 270 seven miles south of Bridgeport. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an unsurfaced road to Bodie.

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