Boom Town to Ghost Town
Nov. 15 - March 15, 1998
As California commemorates the 150th anniversary of statehood, it is important to note that one of the most significant events that led to statehood was the discovery of gold. As one of the richest gold mines on record, Bodie holds a special place in California history. Once a gold mining town of national importance, Bodie is now a ghost town visited by 250,000 visitors annually. Although only five percent of the town still stands, enough remains to keep the memory of Bodie alive.
Founded in 1860 as the bodie Mining district, Bodie's "boom" days lasted from 1878 through 1881. At its peak in 1880, Bodie had an estimated population of over 8,000 residents, 31 steam hoisting works, four newspapers, over 400 businesses, 7 quartz mills, and 125 stamps in the mills. The output of ore was $230,000 a month or $3,000,000 per year (in 1880 dollars), and its reputation transcended from a local phenomena to a gold-mining camp of world consequence. As the ore deposits (once thought to be permanent) were played out, Bodie fell victim to tragedy, fire, and the harsh elements.
As famous as Bodie was for its gold mining and wealth, it was just as infamous for its "wickedness, Bad Men, and the worst climate out of doors." The town's 65 saloons were the right setting for the particular type of violence that engendered the legend of the "Bad Men from Bodie".
In a tribute to "the last of California's old-time mining camps", items from the collection of Gregory H. Bock are on display. This collection of photographs, historical documents and objects present a distinct image of Bodie. Here we are able to see the growth and decline of Bodie's population. This includes a detailed representation of the gold mining activity, as well as a vivid picture of what daily life was like, including glimpses of commerce, government and culture, and a look at some of Bodie's most famous and infamous citizens.