January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Bodie, California is a ghost town. Or rather, it was a ghost town—now it is a historic park and tourist destination. It endures in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning that nothing can be newly constructed onsite, but neither are its standing buildings permitted to deteriorate any further. The state of California has suspended the town in its process of ruination, stabilizing its entropy and halting its decline. If its decay is forestalled, its grounds rigorously maintained and its aesthetic carefully cultivated, can it be called a ghost town any longer?
Bodie is a former gold rush encampment located on the remote eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a dozen miles from the Nevada state border. It was hastily populated in the late 19th century and just as hastily deserted in the early 20th century, leaving a husk of a settlement in its wake. The town boasted ten thousand residents in 1880 and none by the early 1940s, after the mines had dried up and a devastating fire had driven the last few residents away. What remained after its abandonment was a captivating ruin—miners’ coats still hanging on hooks in wooden cabins, books still piled up on pupils’ desks in the schoolhouse, beakers and test tubes intact in the pharmacy, dusty coffins in the undertaker’s studio, and an unfinished billiards game in the saloon. read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Mac Adams