Friday, September 20, 2013

Ghosts and a Genuine Curse are Alive and Well in Bodie...

Storm over Bodie by Dave Bradford Condit (DBCondit)

There are myths and legends aplenty surrounding the little town of Bodie, which is designated as California's "Official State Gold Rush Town."  Separating fact from fiction is a daunting task since the founders and key players have all gone on to their heavenly reward.  We do know without doubt that W. S. Bodie (be he William, Waterman, or Wakeman,) is credited as its founder in 1859. However, it remained nothing more than an obscure mining camp until the Standard Company discovered a rich deposit of gold in 1876. At that point the town took off and a vast array of businesses set up shop. 

Bodie Saloon wikimedia commons public domain

At the height of its glory, one could visit sixty-five different saloons, buy a thrice-weekly newspaper, deposit money at Wells Fargo Bank, join a miner's or mechanic's union, and volunteer at one of four fire departments. As in most mining towns Bodie played host to a very successful red light district as well and did we mention the opium dens? No wonder we have so many reports of barroom brawls, shootouts, murders, stagecoach holdups...and ghosts.

Cain Residence by Daniel Mayer
They say one doesn't have to look far to find them. Take the J.S. Cain residence, for instance. Jim--who built a very lucrative business supplying lumber to Bodie--built his home on Green and Park Street. Not long thereafter, he hired a Chinese maid to look after hearth and home. Yet, her duties didn't appear to end there. Rumors began to fly that she and Jim were having a torrid affair. As one can imagine, this didn't sit well with Mrs. Cain. She sent the girl packing and did so, I imagine, without references. Unable to find a job after her public humiliation, the poor thing took her life and then took up residence inside the Cain home.

Numerous visitors have witnessed and reported her ghostly antics. Doors will open and close of their own accord, music--and unexplained noises--will emanate from a specific bedroom without a source to produce them, and let us not forget the face which gazes out a second story window. Overnight guests experience irrational fear, feelings of suffocation and the inability to rise for the weight on their chest.

The elderly ghost at the Gregory house likes to rock in her chair, knitting her afghans, while the female spirit haunting the Dechambeau residence spends her time gazing out the window of her empty house. Mrs Mendocini produces the smell of Italian cooking when you visit her home, while the children will entertain you with their laughter. And every now and then, you might hear a party taking place.

We also have little Evelyn, the "Angel of Bodie" who met her accidental demise when she ventured to close to a miner who didn't see her behind him when he swung his pickaxe. They say the residents of Bodie never fully recovered from this tragedy and subsequently, after her death, the townsfolk provided her a beautiful guardian angel headstone. Evelyn is seen most often in the cemetery. However, every now and again she'll venture into town and most especially when the moon is full.

And what would a mining ghost town be without its share of ethereal miners? As one might expect they haunt the mines and have been known to speak to the living...  

Besides the ghosts--of which we have only mentioned a few--Bodie carries a curse against all those who would steal her treasures. The otherworldly residents jealously guard their home and should a visitor take anything from their town, be it even so much as a broken piece of glass or a pebble, the thief is cursed with nothing but bad luck and misfortune until the item is returned.  (I don't know... do you think there might be a novel in there?)

It is routine for the Park officials to receive packages containing the stolen booty with sincere letters of apology to whomever the errant visitor might have offended, living and dead...

So, are you brave enough to tempt fate and take a little souvenir home from your visit to Bodie?


  1. I'm definitely not one to tempt fate! No matter how tempting, I wouldn't take a smidgen of anything from Brodie. Uh-huh. No way!

    Poor little Evelyn...what a horrible, horrible end. It's understandable the town was so devastated by her death. I'm glad they gave her that angel headstone.

    Oh--and the top photo, with the storm over Brodie? Love it! That one has ghost town written all over it!

    Fab as always, Debbie :)

  2. Thanks Mae! My heart went out to Evelyn. I think it's so sad to hear ghost stories involving children.

    And the curse? Yep... I wouldn't tempt fate either!