Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Wheels of Bodie

In 1859 William S. Bodey discovered gold in a town now known as Bodie. According to area pioneer, Judge J. G. McClinton, the district's name was changed from "Bodey," "Body," and a few other phonetic variations, to "Bodie," after a painter in the nearby boomtown of Aurora, lettered a sign "Bodie Stables". William Bodey did not live to see a profit from his dicovery he died in November 1859 while after making a supply trip to Monoville and getting lost in a blizzard. In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore. Which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp comprising a few prospectors and company employees to a boomtown. As a bustling gold mining center, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, a railroad, miners' and mechanics' unions, several daily newspapers, and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. In 1913, the Standard Consolidated Mine closed. Mining profits in 1914 were at a low of $6,821. James S. Cain was buying up everything from the town lots to the mining claims, and reopened the Standard mill to former employees, which resulted in an over $100,000 profit in 1915. However, this financial growth was not in time to stop the town's decline. In 1917 the Bodie Railway was abandoned and its iron tracks were scrapped.  Over the years Bodie's mines produced gold valued at nearly $34 million. Mining ceased in 1941 during World War II, as extraction of essential wartime metals took priority by Government Order L-208 of the War Production Board.
   The first label of Bodie as a "ghost town" was in 1915. In a time when auto travel was on a rise, many were adventuring into Bodie via automobiles. The San Francisco Chronicle published an article in 1919 to dispute the "ghost town" label. By 1920, Bodie's population was recorded by the US Federal Census at a total of 120 people. Despite the decline, Bodie had permanent residents through most of the 20th century, even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932. A post office operated at Bodie from 1877 to 1942 In the 1940s, the threat of vandalism faced the ghost town. The Cain family, who owned much of the land the town is situated upon, hired caretakers to protect and to maintain the town's structures. Martin Gianettoni, one of the last three people in Bodie in 1943, was also a caretaker.
   The information above is from Wikipedia click here for more info on Bodie.










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