October 6-7, 2013, Bridgeport, CA
We left Carson City Sunday morning and headed south into Northeastern California. We drove to Bridgeport, CA and are staying at Paradise Shores RV Park on Bridgeport Reservoir. This area of California is where the Sierras meet the Great Basin. We have a great view of the Sierras from our campsite. This small RV park was also once a marina but the lake is so low that you have to walk about ¼ mile to the water.
We received an e-mail from our bank that a fraud alert has been put on our credit card. When we called the bank we found out that two attempts to use our card at clothing stores in Cancun, Mexico were denied. So we now join everyone else who have had their credit card number stolen. We know that because we travel so much we are fortunate that it has not happened sooner. We are also thankful that our credit card company is so vigilant and denied the charges in Mexico. We are suspicious that the cc number was stolen at the gas station at Silver City RV – we think we will avoid Carson City, or at least Silver City RV, in our future travels.
After lunch we loaded the dogs in the Jeep and took a 4-wheel drive into the eastern Sierras on Masonic Mountain to the ghost town of Masonic. Along the way we were surprised to see so many aspen trees among the sagebrush. The fall colors were beautiful.
We stopped at the ruins of the Chemung Mine and walked around looking at the mine and surrounding buildings. This mine was started in 1909 and was worked into the 1960’s but was not a consistent producer.
There isn’t much left at Masonic except the ruins of the Pittsburg-Liberty Stamp Mill and a few foundations. This town had over 1,000 residents at one time. Prospectors discovered gold here in the 1860s and many of the workers were masons, hence the name. In 1900 a 16 year old boy from nearby Bodie found rich ore in the gulch and staked his claim as the Jump Up Joe Mine. Several other rich strikes were discovered and production peaked between 1906 and 1911. Depleting ore veins, lawsuits, mill breakdowns and rising shipping ended the boom and by 1950 the town was completely deserted.
We took a short hike through a large aspen grove before we headed back to the RV park.
Monday we packed a picnic lunch, loaded the dogs in the Jeep and headed to Bodie State Historical Park. Waterman S. Body discovered gold here in 1859 and by 1879 Bodie had a population of about 10,000. The citizens changed the spelling of the town name to ensure proper pronunciation. The Bodie Mining District was formed in 1860 and by 1942 had produced close to $100 million in gold and silver.
Bodie was designated a state historic park in 1962 and is maintained in a state of “arrested decay”. You can walk around and look in the windows but are not allowed in any of the buildings except the museum.
The houses are left as they were found with stained and peeling wallpaper, scattered furniture and lots of dust and dirt.
A few things have been restored like these gas pumps and truck.
This beautiful ornate coffee grinder was in the general store along with shelves of old products. It would have been nice to get into this store to see what was actually on the shelves.
Bodie had over 60 saloons and dance halls and a reputation for wickedness, badmen and the worst climate out of doors.
This ornate pool table in one of the saloons caught our eye – notice the lion’s heads carved on the legs.
Some of the buildings are ready to fall down – this one is being propped up with a log.
The small museum is located in the old Miners Union Hall and had some great displays like this beautiful horse drawn hearse. They also had lots of items that were found in the Bodie houses. There was a great display of old photos - they are asking the public for help in identifying the people in the photos. They also have a couple of large paintings that were painted by two women who lived in Bodie.
Bodie has two bad fires that destroyed most of the town, one in 1892 and another in 1932. The Bodie Bank escaped the fire in 1892 but was destroyed in the fire of 1932. All that is left is the remains of the vault.
The mill at the Standard Mine operated on steam power and used over 40 cords of wood a day. The mill superintendent convinced a major stockholder to invest in electric power transmitted 13 miles over wires from a hydroelectric plant on Green Creek. In 1892, Bodie was the first town in the world to operate equipment and lighting using electricity brought in over long-distance transmission lines. This mill last operated in 1938.
By 1881 the mines were largely depleted and by 1886 the population had shrunk to about 1500. We couldn’t find any information about when the last residents left Bodie but guess in must have been in the 1950s around the same time Masonic was deserted. We enjoyed walking around this great ghost town and getting a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The aspen groves here are smaller than what we are used to in Colorado but the colors are beautiful.
On the way back to the RV park we passed Mono Lake. As we climbed Conway Summit we stopped at a scenic overlook and got a great view of the lake. The signs at the overlook told about what happened to the lake when LA started diverting water from the rivers and streams that feed the lake - the water level dropped around 50% in ten years. The water level has risen some since then but as seen in this picture is still very low. This is a very alkaline lake and is a haven for migrating birds.
We enjoyed our visit to Bodie and the beautiful drive in Lundy Canyon.