Bodie Ghost Town’s
Foreboding Ghost Stories
- A curse is said to inflict itself on anyone who takes artifacts from the town
- Park rangers will hear the sounds of parties going on in town, only to find it as abandoned as always
- The ghost of a child-loving, adult-hating maid is said to haunt the home where she once worked
- A child spirit, the 'Angel of Bodie' is said to reside in the town cemetery, where she plays with other children who come to tour the park
- One home is reportedly inhabited by the ghost of an old woman who rocks in her rocking chair and knits blankets
- Smells of Italian cooking are regularly encountered in one abandoned home
Bodie Ghost Town’s Golden Past
Twelve miles east of Bridgeport, California, well-hidden in the rocky hills that border the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sits an entire town seemingly forgotten by the passage of time. Bodie, California now sits in permanent stasis, its wood decaying, its metal rusting, but its presence in the dusty countryside never wavering. Taverns and pool halls still stand, bottles and billiard balls now collecting dust. Homes of former townsfolk lie in wait for new residents that will never arrive.
Though it will never again house the hustle and bustle of the boomtown it once was, the soul of Bodie remains stubbornly thriving. Like the polar opposite of Ozymandias’s poetic kingdom, you can look upon Bodie’s works and aspire, for everything beside remains.
Timeline of Bodie Ghost Town's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Bodie Ghost Town through the years
The tale of the town of Bodie began, unsurprisingly, with a fellow named Bodey. W.S. Bodey was a gold prospector in the late 1850s who, along with some cohorts, established a mining camp in the area hoping to strike it rich like the 49ers before them. Unfortunately, Mr. Bodey died in a blizzard soon after, and the town that replaced the camp was named in his honor, with a small spelling difference. Interest in the gold deposits around the town grew slowly, and by 1868, the town was still struggling. But that would soon change.
In 1876, a large gold deposit was discovered nearby, and the Standard Company soon built mining and stamp mill operations in Bodie. By 1879, the town’s population had exploded to around 7,000 – 10,000 residents, all focused on supporting the gold mine economy. In this time, Bodie developed a palpable culture: Over 60 taverns lined Main Street, along with a successful red light district and a Chinatown district. Most of the buildings still standing in Bodie were built in this boom era, but the time of prosperity was short-lived.
By the early 1880s, the end of Bodie was seemingly already written. The town was heavily populated with single men with get-rich-quick schemes on their minds, and when riches failed to materialize, they headed off to seek fortune elsewhere. And, after several years of the Standard Company earning the lion’s share of the town’s profits, those fortune-minded men started to pack up and move to newer, more promising boomtowns.
While Bodie’s population dwindled through the 1890s, it turned into a more wholesome town as families developed and churches took the place of brothels. The Standard Company continued to invest in the town during this time, upgrading their technology to glean more profits from the fading gold deposits. But, all anyone in the town was doing at this point was buying time.
At the 1910 census, the population of Bodie was noted at just under 700. Not yet a ghost town, but tiny compared to its past. In 1913 the Standard Company closed in Bodie, and the town’s death knell began to sound. A 1919 news article disputed Bodie’s status as a ‘ghost town,’ but reality was undeniable. By then, the town’s population had dropped to 100. In 1942, the town post office closed, and three final locals took control over the town. But, Bodie wasn’t dead. Rather, it had turned to a new chapter, titled: Ghost Town.
In 1961, the abandoned town was designated a National Historic Landmark, and the State of California took responsibility for it as the Bodie State Historic Park. Through this process, the state coined a term for their preservation strategy, ‘arrested decay’ which has since been applied to other historic structures across the world. But, as many visitors have claimed, Bodie takes the title of ‘ghost town’ quite literally, and it’s not uncommon to spot an apparition during a visit to this forgotten boomtown.
What Makes Bodie Ghost Town So Ghostly?
One of Bodie Ghost Town’s popular paranormal tales is that of a curse that befalls anyone who steals an artifact from the town. Countless people have mailed their trinkets back to the town with letters describing the awful, cursed luck they had since taking objects from Bodie. Though the curse is believed to have been a fabrication by park rangers hoping to stop people stealing from the park, many visitors have sworn by its very real impacts. But, there are far more than just curses haunting this ghost town.
Bodie Ghost Town’s Paranormal Populace
One preserved home is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Chinese maid who used to work there, a spirit who dislikes adults but loves children. Adults who stay in the home have reported waking up in the night to see the apparition of a heavy set Chinese woman sitting on their chest, making it almost impossible for them to breathe.
Another home, the Gregory House, is reportedly inhabited by the ghost of an old woman, who is commonly seen rocking in a rocking chair kept in the house, nonchalantly knitting a blanket.
Bodie Ghost Town’s Angel
The Mendocini House in town is supposedly home to multiple spirits, including one that loves Italian food. Park rangers regularly report the enticing aromas of Italian cooking emanating from the dusty old home, while others have said they hear the sounds of large parties going on in the home, only to find it as deserted as it always is.
At the local cemetery, the spirit of a young girl, the ‘Angel of Bodie’ is said to haunt the area around her headstone, appearing most often to other young children who come to visit.