It only happens once a year, the celebration of the life of the founder of the infamous ghost town, Bodie, California, a once, prosperous, if a bit unlawful, mining town in the eastern Sierras. And what a celebration — complete with a funeral procession to honor the bones of the man who gave the town its name but didn’t live to see prosperity boom there, people dressed in period costume, acting out their various roles in the town, an historical museum full of artifacts of the period, and a big crowd ready to take it all in.
Bodie boasted a population of 7-8,000 in the 1880s, when gold was finally discovered there after about 20 years of prospecting for it. The town had 65 saloons, two churches, and a jail.
The industrial side of town contained the stamp mills that crushed the raw ore, and smelting furnaces to separate out the precious metals. Gold, silver, mercury, and other metals were mined here, but the boom lasted less than 10 years.
Bodie days celebrants lined Main Street waiting for the “funeral procession” and listened to speakers talk about the life of WS Bodey, the town founder.
First came the musicians
Then the hearse, pulled by a pair of beautiful black horses.
Followed by an assortment of wagons and riders in a long parade of original equipment.
Ladies in costume posed in front of the dress shop. This building must have been built much later in the towns history, because it was composed almost entirely of men during boom mining days.
Riders in period costumes with cell phones!
Life in Bodie was fast and furious, but the town suffered a population decline in the late 1800s as mining booms in Montana, Utah, and Arizona drew the “strike it rich” young men away.
Now Bodie is a designated national historic landmark, and a popular tourist destination for those who want to see what life was like back in gold rush days.
What the Bodie hills looked like before the mining boom here in the 1860s.