Bodie, a Ghost of a Town
Story and photos by Craig T. Fall
In our dust covered Jeep, we drove over the rough dirt road into Bodie, 50 miles south of Lake Tahoe, in California. It was perfect. I would expect nothing less from a rough and tumble ghost town like this. The tough access keeps most tourists out. It was a big discouragement to see that only about 15 percent of the town was left due to the ravages of a fire early in the 20th century.
They managed not to burn down the vibe; it was visceral in the stark structure left behind. You can cut Bodie’s history with a knife. It is steeped in the memory of ancient lives.
On a winter day, we were improperly dressed in tennis shoes and thin jackets. Our toes were numb in about 30 minutes. When we walked past the old church, I lost my romantic notion of Paladin, or Tombstone Territory: this was going to be a long and cold, windy trudge. The reality of Bodie must have produced prayers at every foundation of this town.
As we walked, a bitter wind swept up the dusty streets. I shot photos with a high shutter speed to offset the shaking of my numb fingers and hands. As we entered the main street, I found myself staring into ancient, melted windows. There was an old saloon with glasses still on the old marble bar. Tarnished brass, glass colored with age. As I crossed the street, something in a store window caught my eye. The glass was distorted, making it difficult to discern the contents within. I thought it was a store that had sold hardware, as I could see what looked like antique bathtubs. I was trying to figure out what the tiny one was for, then the reality sank in. They were tiny caskets. That’s when the whole thing hit home. This was the real wild west.www.bodie.net