Thursday, January 03, 2008

Yesterday, my friend Aregnaz and I skipped out to the Calico Ghost Town, which lies just past Barstow on I-15. Last October I went to Bodie, which is a long drive from anywhere civilized. I read an article on NPRs Web site that described a rivalry between the two ghost towns, so I was eager to compare the two myself.


I found Calico to have some charms, but immediately, I felt an overwhelming phoniness about it (Especially compared to the preserved, desolate Bodie). Where Bodie features eerie silence, an antique enthusiast's paradise and hollowed, original buildings, Calico oozes with a modern kitsch.


There were fake cowboys who performed a gun show in the street...


...the cemetary felt unoriginal, and had graves from 2005...


...and much of the "town" was restored, and turned into a business-minded consumer attraction.


Bodie takes a three dollar donation at the entrance that goes toward the park's preservation, while Calico costs six dollars per person and features many businesses that take Visa.


I found out that Walter Knott (famous for Knott's Berry Farm and "inventing" the boysenberry) bought and restored the Calico mine back in the 1970s. This should make sense to Southern California residents or anyone who's been on the Calico train ride at Knott's. Around 90 percent of the town has been restored, or rebuilt, which takes away from the "ghost town" experience.


Calico feels distinctly Southern Californian, especially because you can buy fast food in the town and you don't have to look hard from inside to see the interstate.

Some of the surrounding scenery was pretty though.


But if you ask me, the Bodie vs. Calico feud is no contest.

Bodie, CA


  1. Great comparative description. I haven't been to either place, so I feel like I visited along with you.

  2. Having been to both Bodie and Calico and knowing the indepth philosophy of both. Bodie's philosophy is to stay in the condition you see it know, nothing more. Calico was restored by Walter Knott so that families and school children could see a glimpse of the old west the way it was. Restoration and keeping the town up costs a tremendous amount of money. This is why there are higher entry fees and businesses to support the town. The comfort level is much higher at Calico since you can get food or drink in a few steps and a restroom is just a few steps away. Camping is available for overnight stays with awesome 4wd and atv access to public lands for exploration. Of course the gun fights are fake. If they were real you might be dead right now. If they were more real istic looking they might scare small children. The towns are each awesome but in there own way and philosophy of state.