In 1859, gold was discovered in California by a group of prospectors, including a tin manufacturer named W.S. Bodey. And the Gold Rush began.
The following November, Bodey died in a blizzard while making a supply trip to Mono County, California. Mines with gold were later found in Mono County around 1861, and the town of Bodey — later spelled “Bodie” — was born, though its namesake never lived to see the town.
People established a community there, full of wooden structures including a church, jail, hotel, bank and schoolhouse, as well as shops and homes. At its peak in 1880, an estimated 10,000 residents lived there, but Bodie was abandoned during the early ’40s.
Today, it’s a ghost town.
Jeff Sullivan, a California-based photographer, has been capturing images of Bodie since the 1970s, and now leads nighttime photography workshops there. He shared some of his modern-day images of the town.
Located east of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Bodie has approximately 100 buildings still standing today. A fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932.
A mill was the first structure established in Bodie, though it burned down in 1898. It was later replaced by the one below, which features a gondola system that carried gold and silver from underground mines.
There were once 65 saloons on Main Street, though only three remained after the fire. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were normal during Bodie's early days.
The 20 get-rich-quick miners that founded Bodie in 1861 moved onto other boom towns around 1880, and Bodie evolved into more of a family community.
As a National Landmark, the homes occasionally undergo general repairs. But many of them have peeling wallpaper and lots of cracks. This home belonged to miner J.S. Cain and his wife Martha.
When the town was abandoned, the furnishings inside homes like the Cameron House below were left behind.
Many people suspect that Bodie is haunted and report that they feel lightheaded when they visit. Sullivan doesn't buy it though -- after all, he says, the town has an altitude of 8,375 feet.
Below is the DeChambeau Hotel and the I.O.O.F. Building. The latter served as a meeting hall, but the space was later converted into a place to work out. Members would come to use the barbells.
This is what its one of the two cells looked like, as seen through a keyhole. It wasn't very secure, and a prisoner allegedly escaped once.
The building below first served as an office that processed paperwork when residents bought land. It transformed into the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel in the late 1880s.
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