Founded in 1876, Bodie is the authentic American ghost town. It started life as a small mining settlement, though found even more fortune from nearby mines that attracted thousands. By 1880 Bodie boasted a population of almost 10,000 – such was the boom. At its peak, 65 saloons lined the town’s main street, and there was even a Chinatown with several hundred Chinese residents.
Dwindling resources proved fatal however, and although greatly reduced in prominence, Bodie held a permanent residency through most of the 20th century. Even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932. Bodie is now unpopulated. The town was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and in 1962 it became Bodie State Historic Park as the few residents left moved on.
Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay. Only a small part of the town survives. Visitors can walk the deserted streets of a town and interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Bodie is open all year, but the long road that leads to it is usually closed in the winter due to heavy snowfall, so the most comfortable time to visit is during the summer months.