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Published: October 9th 2014
A former saloon and one hotel
The remaining structures include for instance a hotel and a saloon
Bodie - the Wild West was never wilder than here Bodie
is a former gold mining town which saw its heydays during the gold rush. Those were the days of the Wild West. If you have seen western movies you get an idea of what things were like in Bodie.
Bodie really was a wild and violent place in the late 19th century. Not all the town was wild though. One side of the town was safe and decent. The people who lived there were law abiding citizens and they went to church on Sundays and their children went to school just like any middle class children in any town would.
On the other side of the town there was a totally different thing going on though. That's where the pubs and the brothels were and many of the people who were hanging around there would not think twice before killing you if you made them angry. When people were killed in the rough end of Bodie there would never be an investigation into the identity of the killer. If you visited the wild end of the town and got killed it
was your own fault for being there in the first place.
Bodie was a lively place in the 1880-ies and at one time possibly as many as 7,000 people lived in the town. In the early 20th century the mines started to close down and people started to move elsewhere in search for jobs. In the 1920-ies the population had dropped to little more than a hundred people. Bodie must have been very much a ghost town then since most of the 2,000 or so houses that were in the town in the 1880-ies were then still standing.
That was about to change in 1932 when a fire broke out. In the fire somewhere around 80% of all the houses in Bodie burnt down. In the 1940-ies the last few inhabitants decided to leave however and from then on Bodie was a genuine ghost town.
The remaining houses, around 110 in total, forms the Bodie State Historic Park. It is a very well preserved town from the days of the wild west and the gold rush. It is open for visitors but thankfully it is not made into a Disneyland. The
Abandoned houses in Bodie
Bodie is open for visitors but thankfully it is not made into a Disneyland. The park rangers are only guardians of the site, they don't try to set up any wild west show or anything like that.
park rangers are only guardians of the site, they don't try to set up any wild west show or anything like that.
The remaining structures include for instance a hotel, a saloon, several private homes and a stamp mill. Most of the buildings remain closed to protect the buildings, the furniture and probably also to prevent theft. The buildings in Bodie are maintained to some extent. The regulations state that the restorations will only be made to prevent the houses from falling down or severely deteriorate.
The mines are off limits for safety reasons but the stamp mill can be visited by joining a tour. In the stamp mill the rock from the mines was crushed into a fine powder. From that powder the gold was extracted.
The process of crushing the rock was done by using mechanical sledgehammers that pounded the rock until it was all turned into very fine grains. That was of course a very noisy activity. When all the stamp mills were operating the sound they produced could be heard several miles away.
The gold was then extracted using two methods after each other.
Petrol station and a truck
Wonder if this is genuine? It looks like it has been set up
First the powdered rock was passed over a table covered with a thin layer of mercury. The tiny gold flakes then attached themselves to the mercury and could be scooped up.
Some of the gold passed over the mercury covered table without attaching to it and came out on the other side. That gold was extracted using cyanide.
So working in a stamp mill included deafening loud noise and/or that you had to be in contact with either mercury or cyanide. When we think our jobs sucks, we will try to think about the jobs they had in Bodie. Then all of a sudden our jobs seem pretty good.
We really enjoyed the visit to Bodie and since many of the photos we took there came out pretty good we have in this blog entry nothing but photos from Bodie.
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