Nilo Hodge Photo

Nilo Hodge Photo Blog

Nilo Hodge Photo Blog showcasing personal projects and recent work.

Bodie Ghost Town


When I think of ghost towns, I think of the movie There Will Be Blood. I imagine the wood houses, the serenity, the prominent church and an oil well or gold mine. You can see the small tight knit community working towards a common goal, to get rich. When my friend Ron and I were planning on our trip to California back in October, I knew this would be an amazing place to check out.

We flew into Vegas pretty late and spent the next day in Death Valley. After spending most of the night driving to Mono Lake we slept in the car and woke up really early for sunrise. After getting shots there, we took the hour drive to Bodie. On the drive there, I started to realize how remote it was. Once we arrived, we paid the few bucks to get in and parked. Once you park you notice how every building is made from slapped together wood. We spent a few minutes walking around peering into some of the buildings and grabbing a few shots. We heard about a guided tour through the town and we decided to check it out.

Typically we like to explore places ourselves and search history on our phones as we’re walking around. Since it was so remote, we hand no service on our phones. That helped our decision to take the free tour with one of the resident park rangers. Our tour guide showed us around the downtown area which was about a block long. One of the more memorable stories she told us was about how scarce wood was. Considering how every building was made from wood I was a bit confused at first. But essentially in the town’s infancy, there was no easy way to get supplies to the town including the wood needed to build and heat the homes. This led to some interesting stories come winter time. Bodie is known for their severe winters and major snowfall. A lot of town’s miners couldn’t afford to pay the high price of fire wood and the other necessities so people began to resort to theft. In turn people that had an abundance of wood came up with some tactics to ward off possible plunderers. One of which was a hallowed out log filled with gun powder. There was a story where a thief stole a log to heat his home, but he didn’t know it was boobytrapped. When the log finally ignited, it blew up a good portion of his house. It was truly the Wild West out there.

Some of the buildings were accessible to a certain point and we had the chance to go in a few of them and check them out. It was really interesting to see how modern some of the houses were. They had electricity and an out house that was converted to an indoor bathroom by building an addition to a house and connecting a hallway to it. Besides the people that work as rangers and staff that run the gift shop, there hasn’t been residents in almost a hundred years but some stores still had old inventory, there were houses with furniture and other relics from the time.

I’m really glad we made the trip out there on our way to Yosemite. California is full of crazy places like this and it worth checking out as much of them as possible. I’d definitely recommend going if you’ve never been there.