Ghost Stories at Bodie

Cain House at night

The voices of nobody in the night . . .  the footsteps of no one on the stairs . . .  lights turning on and off in unoccupied buildings . . .  Over the years, the park staff who live for months at a time in the old buildings at Bodie State Historic Park have heard, seen, and experienced all of these — and other occurrences they can’t explain. Are these the actions of restless, wandering spirits, or just “residual haunting” phenomena? Or does living in rickety old buildings in the remote, windy, high desert cause imaginations run just a little wild late at night?  Well, Bodie is an authentic Ghost Town, right?

In the church at Bodie

One evening last month I joined a “Bodie Ghost Walk” and “Ghost Mill Tour” offered by the Bodie Foundation and presented by a couple of Bodie’s charming interpretive staff. We started in the church, then strolled through town and peeked inside a few of the buildings.

Cain House

The J. S. Cain House

Cain House interior

A cozy room in a (haunted?) staff residence.

Walking in Bodie

Heading north on Prospect Street

The Italian family's house

“This was the home of an Italian family with 15 children. When I lived in here last year, I felt something . . .”

Main Street

Heading south on Main Street

In the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel

This room in the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel is where meals were served all day, a billiards table provided recreation, and a bar provided refreshment.

Carom billiards table

It’s a Carom billiards table, the kind with no pockets.

In the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel

The hotel also rented rooms . . . in 8-hour shifts. One miner had a peg leg with a sharp point on it. Just down this hall, you can see hundreds of little dents in the floor boards around the door to his room.

The Standard Mill

The Standard Mill was a hazardous workplace, but it had a good safety record, with only one documented fatal accident. A man slipped and fell into the large, rapidly moving belts that drove the stamp mill. Can it be true that he was instructing other mill workers on workplace safety at the time?

The Standard Mill

Recently, the story of another fatality came to light, in the diary of a woman who lived there many years ago. The incident may have escaped official documentation because the victim was nobody important—only a boy, small and agile enough to climb the rafters and grease the wheels of the mill’s machinery for a few dollars a day.

Outside the Mill

Then there was the time two highway patrolmen were by themselves up in the cemetery — they heard a little girl’s voice, turned around, and saw a small person’s footprints in the fresh snow  . . . .

Good night, Bodie

Good night, Bodie.


Copyright © 2017 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
This entry was posted in Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ghost Stories at Bodie

  1. dsprague85 says:

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Greg says:

    Tim, you’ve posted so many beautiful images on this blog, but to me these really stand out. I’m glad you included both images that can stand on their own as striking abstract compositions, and images that tell a nice story. A wonderful set.

    • Tim Messick says:

      Thanks very much, Greg! It’s obvious from the photos, but the light that evening was amazing. The setting sunlight was shining in under massive, dark rain clouds, and it had rained heavily just before the tour started. The clouds broke up quickly and moved east, so it was mostly clear by 9 pm.

  3. Sounds like a fun place to visit.

Comments are closed.