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Calico Ghost Town, California

Updated on April 15, 2017
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Go see, explore, take photos, and write it up! I love exploring places that I see on the Rand McNally Road Atlas or by serendipity.

Calico Ghost Town


Calico: Historical background

Calico stands in sharp contrast to California's gold rush towns. Located in the middle of the parched Mojave Desert the town got its start in 1881 roughly 30 years after the Gold Rush. Similar to many mining towns Calico boomed in the early 1880s and at its peak held a population of between 1,200 to 3,500 people by 1890. But as the silver boom died the town experienced an ebb. The Sherman Silver Act of 1890, ironically, signaled the beginning of the end of the town's prosperity and activity. The Act mandated the the United States government purchase silver in an effort to inject more hard currency into the economy: a move that was mostly the result of farmers and miners desire to cause an inflationary spiral to help with depressed prices. Unfortunately the Sherman Silver Act sent the price of silver down as there was a surplus of the precious metal reserves by then. Eventually the town experienced the inevitable decline of a mining boom town but not before extracting $20 million on silver ore across the 500 working mines. The ghost town was purchased in the 1950s by Walter Knott who restored all but six of the original buildings. In 2005 the ghost town received state historical marker #782 and the park is open to the public today.

California Historical Marker #782

State Historical Marker #782
State Historical Marker #782 | Source

Visitor Information

Calico is now operated as a county park by San Bernardino County and is open from 9 am - 5 pm daily (closed Christmas Day). Entrance fees are as follows (April 2017): 5 and under free; Youth $5.00; Adult $8.00. There is an extra cost to ride the narrow gauge Calico and Odessa Rail. The trip is a total of 8 minutes long. There are a number of gift shops among the restored buildings and well as refreshments and a three full-service restaurants. The best time to visit Calico is between the months of November and April. Summers are extremely hot!

Calico: Favorite attraction

What is your favorite Calico attraction?

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Hotel at Calico

The old hotel at Calico.
The old hotel at Calico. | Source

Calico Attractions: Maggie MIne

There are 500 mine shafts in an around Calico. Because of the danger they are off limits except for this one, the Maggie Mine, which was used to mine silver ore in the 1880s. It's also self guided and a relatively short walk of only 1,000 feet. There is also an informative set of displays which interprets the mining of silver and includes a nice collection of minerals.


The anticline formation above the lower parking lot.
The anticline formation above the lower parking lot. | Source

Calico Attractions: Ghost Tours

No ghost town is complete without a bone-chillin' tour of where the netherworld lurks. Tours are given on Saturday evenings and represent true accounts of what paranormal activity exists on site.

Mining ghost towns

Which is your favorite mining town in California?

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Calico Attractions: Mystery Shack Tour

This house offers boardwalk-style frills such as optical illusions and bizarre curiosities.

Narrow gauge train depot

Calico & Odessa narrow gauge train depot
Calico & Odessa narrow gauge train depot | Source

Calico Attractions: Gold Panning

Ironically this silver mining town has a place where you can pan for gold as it was done in the old days (and still done today in places). Considering Calico was neither a gold town nor a placer mine this one is arguably a little out of place and caters too much to touristic fancies. It is what it is.

The Schoolhouse at Calico

The old Schoolhouse.
The old Schoolhouse. | Source

Calico Attractions: The Schoolhouse

The original schoolhouse was built in 1885. The current structure is a replica about 1/3 of the original size. Rebuilt in the 1950s, the school is at the top of the hill overlooking the town. The school operated from 1882-1899.

Calico Attractions:The Calico Odessa Railroad

This narrow gauge railroad takes 8 minutes and has a separate entrance fee. It provides nice views of the desert to the north and the engineer interprets the local history along the way. It was a not an original fixture of the town as it was added in 1958. The cost is $4 for adults and $2 for kids (April 2017).

Calico Attractions: Lucy Lane Museum

The Museum is a good place to start a self-guided tour as it has a collection of old photos, displays, and artifacts from the town.

Entrance sign to Calico

One of a few entrance signs to the park.
One of a few entrance signs to the park. | Source

Mine shaft

Abandoned mine shaft, Calico.
Abandoned mine shaft, Calico. | Source

Main Street, Calico

Looking up the main street of Calico.
Looking up the main street of Calico. | Source


Approaching the entrance to the park.
Approaching the entrance to the park. | Source

Calico Ghost Town & vicinity

Calico Ghost Town:
Calico, CA 92311, USA

get directions

Barstow, CA:
Barstow, CA, USA

get directions

Rainbow Basin:
Fossil Bed Rd, Barstow, CA 92311, USA

get directions

Amboy, CA:
Amboy, CA 92304, USA

get directions

Calico Early Man Site:
Minneola Rd, Yermo, CA 92398, USA

get directions

California Welcome Center, Barstow:
Outlets at Barstow, 2796 Tanger Way #100, Barstow, CA 92311, USA

get directions

© 2017 Throgmorton


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