It is hard to describe what draws us to places like Bodie. Maybe it is the beauty of the forgotten and rusty; maybe it is the dark history or a search for ghosts of the past. One thing is for sure – after documenting all major ghost towns of the West over the last few years we couldn’t be more pleased. Each ghost town provided us with great history lessons, unforgettable adventures and beautiful imagery.
After visiting Sandon, Cody, Shaniko, Antelope, Elkhorn and Garnet, it was time to set our sights on Bodie – the largest and most popular ghost town in North America. Its reputation preceded it. Quoting from the diary of a girl who was taken to this infamous town: “Goodbye God, I am going to Bodie.”
Bodie got its name from Waterman S. Body, who discovered gold in 1859 and started yet another gold rush. At its peak, the town had a population of 10,000. While most mining towns of that time couldn’t be mistaken for their elegance and law-abiding citizens, Bodie gained an especially bad reputation. Killings, fires, fights and robberies combined with 65 saloons offered all sorts of relaxation to stressed miners.
Initially, we really wanted to visit this famous ghost town before sunrise but it wasn’t possible. The park gates usually open at 9:00 AM and there is only one opportunity per month when photographers are allowed to arrive earlier. We had just missed this date and we couldn’t wait another four weeks.
With no other choice we decided to get there at the regular opening time. Upon our arrival we encountered sunny blue skies, not what we would envision for ghost town atmosphere. However, with the weather forecast warning of thunderstorms, we decided to wait for some clouds to arrive and save the day. First, we walked around the town and tried to find the best spots then we worked on composition and observed the light. After about two hours, there were still no clouds in sight. It was hot and we were tired so we decided to rest in the car for a bit. When we woke up, the blue skies had gone and clouds were rolling across the hills. As we started taking photos, the skies got cloudier by the minute.
After wandering around with our cameras for about an hour and a half, we could hear thunderstorms so we raced to the car just as the rain started.
It was a pity we couldn’t photograph Bodie at sunrise but our wait for cloudy skies paid off. See for yourself.
2014 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.