The Bodie Ghost Town Curse
Written By: JEH
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Bodie is a ghost town located in Mono County, California, just southeast of Lake Tahoe. Once a boom town in 1876, the town went into decline in the subsequent decades. In 1915, the town was officially described as a ghost town after a huge drop in mining profits.
The town was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and Bodie State Historic Park was created in 1962. Despite the interesting history of the town, visitors flock to the site to witness firsthand The Bodie Ghost Town Curse.
The History of Bodie
A group of prospectors, including W. S. Bodey, discovered gold in the area in 1859. The area then became a mining camp before officially becoming a town named after Bodey. Unfortunately, Bodey died in a blizzard before the completion of the town named after him.
In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore. The discovery ultimately transformed Bodie into a Wild West boomtown. More prospectors and employees became attracted to the town and the population quickly grew to more than 10,000 people. Over the years, Bodie’s mines produced gold valued at nearly US$34 million.
Along with the rise of the town, thousands of buildings also rose. The town quickly became the home of amenities of larger towns, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, a railroad, and miners’ and mechanics’ union.
At its peak, the town also had 65 saloons, making murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups regular occurrences.
There was also a red-light district on the north end of town. Also, they had a Chinatown, which ran at a right angle to Bodie’s Main Street.
Rise of Other Mining Camps
In 1880, mining camps in Butte, Montana; Tombstone, Arizona; and Utah lured men away from Bodie. This turned Bodie from a mining camp to a family-oriented community. Following this change of reputation, 1882 residents built the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church, which burned about 1930.
Despite the population decline, the Bodie mines continued to flourish and even broke ore production records at $3.1 million.
During the early 1890s, Bodie enjoyed a short revival from technological advancements in the mines that continued to support the town. However, the revival was short-lived as the population continued to decline.
The Fall of Bodie Mines
In 1910, the population was recorded at 698 people. From millions worth of profit, the mines only made $6,821 in 1914.
James S. Cain bought everything from the town and reopened the Standard mill to former employees. This brought $100,000 of profit to the town. However, the money was not enough to save the town from further decline.
In 1915, the town was described as a “ghost town” as the population dropped to 100 to 200 people. More people left for better mining camps, leaving the place vulnerable to the threat of vandalism. So, Cain hired one of the last three Bodie residents to become the town’s caretaker.
Becoming a Historical Landmark
In 1961, the town was designated a National Historic Landmark. The following year, the state legislature authorized the creation of Bodie State Historic Park. Bodie has also been named as California’s official state gold rush ghost town.
The Bodie Town Curse
People claim that the place is haunted by the ghosts of James Cain’s Chinese maid/mistress and the phantom children playing at The Mendocino House. However, the town is known for its curse.
Ed Warren, who was a famous paranormal expert, supported the claim that a curse engulfed the town. But if you are not a thief, there is not much to worry about when visiting the ghost town.
Park Rangers report receiving items from Bodie in the mail, sometimes accompanied by anonymous apology letters. Apparently, visitors who steal items from the town get cursed, and here are some of their stories:
1. In 1972, two girls found a bed and used a stick to get some of the money left in the mattress. Then, the pair took the money home. However, their family suffered financial problems afterward as its members couldn’t hold jobs or keep their home.
2. In 1994, a tourist picked a few souvenirs from Bodie. Within a year, he suffered from a car accident, lost his job, and was ill for most of the year. He consulted a psychic who advised him to put the items back. He returned the items anonymously.
3. Around the early 2000s, two teenage girls picked rocks from Bodie and made necklaces of them. They experienced a series of bad luck and got a bad rash on where the rocks touched their skin. After an earthquake hit their town, they returned their necklaces to Bodie.
4. A German man picked a bottle from Bodie only to have an accident on the Autobahn upon his return to Germany. His son took the same bottle to school and while riding his bike, had an accident.
Bodie in Popular Culture
The ghost town has been used as the setting for several popular fiction novels, including:
• Behind the Masks by Susan Patron
• No Trees for Shade by Kathleen Haun
• The Sixth Extinction (A Sigma Force Novel) by James Rollins
• Orphan Runaways by Kristiana Gregory
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