Ghost Towns of the Wild West~


Bodie is a gold rush era ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Mono Lake California. In its heyday it was a wild west era boomtown with shoot outs, bar-room brawls, stage-coach robberies, and murders. Dust and mayhem in the old wild west!

It had a jail, saloons, a red light district, and a morgue, everything you needed in the lawless frontier, just like all those western movies we’ve all watched.
Bodie also had a Chinatown with an opium den and Taoist temple. I don’t remember Taoist temples in the old western movies, do you? I guess this doesn’t quite fit with the six-guns and society ethos of those movies.

There was a Catholic and Methodist church, to counteract the lawless ways of the frontier, no doubt.
Bodie was founded in 1859 and at its peak it had a population of almost 10,000 people and around 2000 buildings.

It began to decline as a boomtown in the 1890’s, and became more of a family oriented frontier community.

There was a doctor’s house, a town hall, a couple of hotels, a barber shop and a schoolhouse, and I would imagine much less murder, mayhem, and general excitement.

By 1910 there were 688 people living in Bodie, and by 1915 people started referring to it as a ghost town even though it was inhabited by a few hangers-on until around 1942.


Bodie is now designated as a protected state historical park and is maintained but not improved.


We encountered several wild west ghost towns in the Eastern Sierra, some we found while hiking which were completely unexpected and quite a surprise. Each of them gives you the wonderfully eerie feeling of walking back in dusty time.
Cheers to you from the living ghosts of the old wild west~

287 thoughts on “Ghost Towns of the Wild West~

  1. I spent a lot of years wandering and wondering in the deserts of Nevada and California when I was a whippersnapper. My family enjoyed Indian Trading Posts, Ghost Towns, Old Mines, and such. They were free or at least cheap and my parents would do anything to keep their herd quite. (four kids in five years) mother went nutz.

    I truly enjoyed this article, a little flash from my past, I don’t succumb to these type of pleasures anymore having learned from my mother and never had kids….so no grand kids but there are still pleasurable memories. I found an old bookstore in one “operating” ghost and bough a simply bound short story by Mark Twain published in his time, called “A Dog’s Tale” one of my multiple purchases on these frequent childhood gad abouts. THANX for posting this Cindy. ~~dru~~


    • These sound like layered and fascinating memories and experiences, bringing up a mix of feelings in you. Just reading it sounds like a memoir I would want to read. The Mark Twain book sounds like an amazing find. He is one of my favorites and a book published in his lifetime would be a treasure.


  2. I would have never imagined they still exist. I would love to visit one day. I think the government should renovate these places but keep it in the way it is. Do they arrange for tourists to visit? Very interesting. I love history!


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