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.
The Chicago tourist activities have been continuing. Another local attraction I have never been to – and this one has no excuse since I have known about it for ages and it is visible from my window! – is the bridgehouse for the Michigan Avenue bridge.
Chicago has a large number of movable bridges across the Chicago and Calumet rivers. A large number of them are bascule bridges. For those of you not familiar with French descriptions of bridges, bascule bridges are counterbalanced and rotate out of the way using very little power due to the excellent balance. (Bascule is French for seesaw.)
The museum is in the tower at one end of the bridge. It is a pretty small museum but it provides access to the mechanisms that move the bridge. This is something that interests an engineering type like me. I think they could have made things a little better though. There is very little lighting down there so it is hard to make out all of the parts of the machinery. They could also provide a bit more of a guide to this. As a photographer, the amount of fencing in the way is a nuisance but I doubt there is much they could do about that.
As a result of the relatively limited nature of the bridge, the rest of the museum is a history of Chicago, its rivers and the water supply. It certainly provides more to look at and is quite worth a look. There are also some slightly different views of the river. Since it was only $4 to get in, I think it was worth a look. Now to see how I can make some suggestions to them about improvements.