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Bodfish is a tiny town next to Lake Isabella. In Bodfish you will find the Silver City Ghost Town, which is a great place to visit if you want to see some hands-on history from the area.
What I really liked about this ghost town, and what makes it different from a place like Calico, is that the structures at Silver City are original buildings. Calico had a lot of reproductions. Which are really cool and perhaps more aesthetically pleasing, but not as authentic.
A town made of multiple towns
All the buildings at Silver City Ghost Town were relocated from the surrounding area. A lot of them were being saved from destruction. The curator explained to use that some of the buildings were embellished. For example, an interesting sign found from a collapsed building is now on a building it was not original to. But none of the structures have any new materials.
The buildings are maintained via “arrested decay.” This is a term that describes maintaining a building to try to keep it from falling down but adding any improvements or remodels. None of the buildings are reproductions.
Silver City Ghost Town ambassadors
When you first arrive at Silver City Ghost Town you are likely to be greeted by Izzy the cat. He’s quite friendly and talkative and has a very dapper bandana on his neck. There is a small parking lot which includes some hitching rails (to tie up horses), which were convenient for locking up our bikes. =) Izzy came out and watched us while we did so.
Next you will see some old buildings which enclose a gift shop, antiques and sundries. Inside the shop you can purchase tickets for a self guided tour (although the host is happy to answer any questions). General admission is free for kids 5 and under, $4.50 for kids 6-12, and $5.50 for everyone else. They also have special nighttime tours for $15.00.
Once inside the little town you may also be greeted by a dog. He’s friendly and just wants to say hi, then he wanders off back to his house. We didn’t catch his name.
Lots of history
I think the best thing about Silver City Ghost Town were the stories. The buildings have typed stories attached to each of them about the building and people. One of them talks about a man who saw someone with a newspaper–a rarity in that area. He purchased the newspaper for $100 and made his money back tenfold letting people borrow it from him to read for a dollar apiece. People were so starved for news they gladly paid the cost.
Here’s another story about a man who exonerated himself by demonstrating his gunfighting skills:
I also thought this was a cool chair, made completely of horseshoes. I didn’t try it out (didn’t want to invoke the “you-break-it-you-bought-it” policy).
I never considered myself much of a history buff. I have a tough time keeping dates and events in my head. But places like this make history interesting to me. Silver City Ghost Town is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, both to keep history alive and support local small business.