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View of the mountains West of Bodie

The Ghost Town of Bodie, CA.

Best Preserved Ghost Town in the United States

Photographs and text by Matthew Kiwala

Bodie is a fascinating spot. The only well preserved ghost town in the U.S., it sits a few miles away from Highway 395 in California. The closest towns are Lee Vining, alongside of Mono Lake, and Bridgeport. The town was originally saved from destruction from souvenir hunters by the original gold mining company that owned the property.

Currently tended by the California State Parks and Recreation Service, it is kept in a state of "arrested decay". This means that while the park employees do what they can to halt the ageing process, they will not do any outright repairs or maintenance to the buildings and their interiors. Only about 5% of the town now remains.

Bodie was named after Waterman S. Body who discovered gold in the surrounding hills in 1859. The spelling change was instituted by the citizens to insure proper pronunciation. By 1879, the town supported a population of over 10,000 people and was reputedly notorious throughout the west for the most wicked people, and the most wicked weather.

Click on an image to see a larger one.
Overview of the town from nearby peak.
Junked car.
Overview of Bodie at dawn from a nearby peak. The Standard Mine building is at the lower left. Elevation: 8962 ft.
The Miners Union Hall. Photo taken in... July. Really.
Exterior of the I.O.F. hall and a saloon.
Interior view of the Boone store.
Exterior of the I.O.F. hall and a saloon.
Interior view of the Boone store. Detail showing the full resolution of the negative.
Interior of Saloon.
Main desk of the Bodie Hotel.
Interior of Saloon. Complete with Roulette wheel.
Main desk of the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel. Pigeon holes for mail on wall, and an antique typewriter on the desk.
Interior of the assay office
Detail of old pants
Interior of the assay office located in the back of the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel.
Pants hanging next to steamer trunk. Detail of pants taken from the full image.

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All images and designs are 1996-2000 Matthew Kiwala & Magic Ink.