Last week, C.J. and I visited Bodie, California, a state park which bills itself as the biggest ghost town in the West. It's a very scenic two and a half hour drive from Lake Tahoe passing through both Nevada and California. Below is a view of the town.
Bodie reached it's height of nearly 10,000 residents in the 1870's then began a steady decline when gold was discovered in Montana. Mining operations continued up until the early days of World War II when the U.S. government suspended most gold mining in favor of other minerals needed for the war effort. Bodie emptied out after the last mine closed.
The town became a state park in the 1960's and has drawn 200,000 visitors annually ever since. C.J. and I counted four different languages spoken on the day we visited.
The thing that makes Bodie so interesting, besides the fact that the town still has some 110 buildings still standing, is that it has been left basically alone since it was abandoned, furniture, wall paper, odds and ends as they were when the last residents left. You can't go inside the buildings, but you can look through the windows where you'll see a fairly spooky sight.
We did ask a park ranger if it's true that everything there is just the way it was left. She said that while things have been moved around some, nothing has been added to the site. Everything you see in Bodie was actually left there when the residents moved out
Bodie is really in the middle of no where, high in the arctic desert climate of the Sierra Nevadas. I've seen enough gold rush towns this summer to know that there really were plenty of examples of buildings, both storefronts and homes, that were left behind with their contents intact. While I'm sure some of what you see in Bodie today has been arranged, I'm also sure that everything you see was really left there by someone who moved on to newer, hopefully better, prospects.