While you are not allowed inside most of the buildings at Bodie, you can walk right up to the windows to take a look inside. This is one of those times when photography can really help. The windows are not cleaned so there is a layer of dust and grime on them. With bright sunlight above, it is hard to get a good view of the inside. However, a wide angle lens pressed right up against the glass, possibly including a spare hand to cover a particular reflection, means that you get a far clearer view. A little tweaking of the contrast in Lightroom and the interior shots look far better than what you recall seeing.
Consequently, I was able to see a lot more of what was inside some of the buildings when we got home. Whether it was disused beds decaying, ceilings coming apart or the interior of a schoolroom, you could see a lot of what was left behind. Some of the buildings showed a great deal of what had been there before. The dining and pool tables in the hotel, the exercise equipment at the Oddfellows Hall or the shelves in the shop all told a story of a life long gone.
Not only buildings show the history of Bodie. There is plenty of machinery that gives some insight into what had gone before in this town. As soon as you leave the parking lot, a selection of machinery from one of the mines has been relocated to let you see how the mines got everything up and down. The big steam pistons, cable reels and the lift cages the guys went down in are there to wander around.
That isn’t all though. There are quite a few bits and pieces scattered around the town where they were left. A couple of vehicles are on display in good condition. These are interesting but the ones that were unreserved interested me far more. The metal parts of small trucks have survived while the wooden frames have rotted away. They leave the skeleton like parts slightly sunk into the ground giving the impression that the whole vehicle has sunk. The missing bits leave scope for the imagination to wonder at how the whole thing looked. It is also a detective task to work out exactly what some of the remaining parts are and what joined them together.
Vehicles aren’t the only things to find. Some other machinery is scattered about and that involves even more thought as to what it was for and how it ended up dumped in its current location. The condition of the metalwork is remarkably good. I have no idea whether the park service has done anything to sustain the items but they seem to be petty resilient. I imagine the climate helps to keep things in good shape so hopefully they will be there for generations to come.
Part of our schedule while staying at Mammoth Lakes was to visit Bodie. If you are not familiar with it, Bodie is a ghost town not far from the Nevada line. It was once a mining town and quite a booming (and hairy) place but the demise of the mining left the town devoid of a reason to be. Much of the town was lost to fire but a significant number of buildings remain in pretty much the condition they were when their occupants left. This includes a fair number of interior fixtures and fittings in place.
The Park Service is careful to protect what there is so most of the buildings are closed up. You can look through the windows and there is a tour of the stamping mill. Bar a few places, everything is constructed from wood. The environment has had some effect on them but they are still mostly in good shape. You can see which ones were better constructed at the time. They certainly hold their shape well while some are either collapsing or at least pretty askew.
A few brick structures are around. The bigger ones still seem to be hanging in there while some of the smaller ones have collapsed. Not sure whether this was a result of age or maybe the odd tremor has taken a toll. While the big brick buildings make some sense based on their usage, I was interested in the smaller ones. Was this a status symbol in old Bodie to have a brick structure? I imagine shipping in the materials was a bit harder than for a lumber house and whether the skilled labor was around, I have no idea.
Getting to Bodie requires a trek of about 16 miles from the highway. The last three are on a rough track which can be pretty rough in parts. If you have something suited to rough roads this will be no problem but a regular car takes a bit of a pounding. Fine if it is a rental but a bit more troublesome if it is your own! However, take it easy and it is worth the effort.