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Bodie: A Real Ghost Town

Updated on September 28, 2011

In 1859, William S. Bodey discovered gold in California on the eastern slopes of the Sierra, close to the Nevada border. In no time a small isolated mining camp sprang up. Unfortunately, Bodey died in a blizzard not long afterwards. Eventually the mining camp became a town and was named after him.

However, somewhere along the line the name became spelled “Bodie.” Many have mistakenly believed the spelling of the town's name was a mistake on the part of an illiterate sign painter, but it was actually changed by the town’s people to ensure proper pronunciation.

In 1876, the discovery of a large deposit of gold bearing ore transformed the small mining camp into a boomtown and by 1878 Bodie boasted a population of over 5,000. And since it was a boom town it also had a huge crime rate. A minister in the town, a Reverend F.M. Warrington, remarked “Bodie is a sea of sin.”

Methodist Church

Cain House

Today, Bodie is one of the most famous ghost towns of the Old West, a national landmark and a state historic park under the auspices of the California State Park system. It looks about the same as it did over 50 years ago when the last residents left, although only a small part of the town survives. Buildings remain as they were left, stocked with goods and furnishings.

Apparently it is also home to several spectral inhabitants and has long been a site of haunting and paranormal activity. One home in particular, that of a man named James Stuart Cain, is said to be the scene of many ghostly sightings.

Cain came to Bodie at the age of 25 and set up a lumber business. The story is told about Cain hiring a Chinese girl as a housekeeper who became his mistress.

Consequently, when the town got wind of the scandal, Cain was forced to fire her.

Since the housekeeper was now disgraced and snubbed by the community she could not find work. In the depths of depression she committed suicide. It is said she still inhabits Cain’s home and many visitors claim to have experienced her presence. Some have reported seeing the face of a woman in the second story window and have heard sounds of music from what is believed to have been her bedroom. Doors have opened and closed on their own violation. Others have felt like they were being held down and experienced a sensation of being suffocated.

In another house called the “Mendocini Home,” the sounds of children laughing and playing has been heard along with the smells of cooking food.

Bodie has earned a reputation of being a town cursed. Many firmly believe spirits protect what is left of their community. The curse is said to fall on anyone attempting to remove anything from their town. They will remain doomed to misfortune until they return what they took.

It is interesting to note the park has rules prohibiting the removal of anything on the premises. In fact, everything in Bodie is fully protected and nothing may be collected or removed. Even metal detectors are not allowed. Park administrators have made camping off limits and prohibited any commercial businesses, with the exception of one book store.

Park officials frequently receive packages in the mail from people returning items they took from the historic park. Some include full length letters apologizing to both living and spiritual beings they may have offended. It makes one wonder what possibly could have occurred to prompt such actions by logical, soundly minded people.

Bodie is open all year. However, during winter months it is accessible only by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles because of its high elevation.

For further information on park hours, nearby facilities and tour information, follow this link:


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    • jblais1122@aol profile image


      7 years ago from Kansas City, Missouri, USA

      Great, loved it. I have been to Bodie and Panamint City and a few other "ghost towns", love them all.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Loved this hub. If I lived out west, this would definitely rate a visit! Thanks for the hub, J.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      7 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Well done, another spooky HUB, Thanks



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