Saturday, June 19, 2010

Miners Union Cemetery- Bodie

This is the Undertakers home/office in Bodie. I had to get these photos through thick, dirty and very reflective vintage glass. The old style caskets were a real find!

The Bodie cemetery is located on a hill across the main road into Bodie. There is a great view of the town from the cemetery but also the cemetery is easily seen from the town and a constant reminder of the   closeness of death in Bodie which was considered one of the most wild of the Wild West towns.

Grave marker placed for Waterman S. Body aka William S. Bodey

Looks like the Lockwoods lost at least 2 family members in 1892, likely an influenza epidemic.

Grave of Lottie Johl

Grave of Lottie Johl

This is not an original marker for Rosa May. Her actual gravesite is near this area as she was buried outside the cemetery fence. You can see the fence in the background.
Rosa May (1855 – 1911-12) was a prostitute during the late 19th century and very early 20th century who lived in the Virginia City and Bodie, California areas. Legend states that she was selflessly nursing sick miners during an epidemic and succumbed to the illness herself. Because of this she has been referred to as the “hooker with a heart of gold”. From 1888 to the early 1890s, she traveled to and from Bodie, California and eventually settled there in 1893. She appears on the 1900 census records. 1902 land records show that Rosa purchased a house in Bodie’s “Red Light District” for $175.

Based on external evidence it appears that Rosa died during the winter of 1911-1912. Her exact cause of death is not known and a legal record of her death does not exist. She was buried in Bodie, but due to the nature of her profession, she was not allowed to be buried within the cemetery boundary. Her grave site lies about 100 feet outside of the town cemetery, did not have a headstone marker, and had a small wooden fence built around it. A gravestone marker now exists in the area but it was erected many years after her death and is in the wrong location.

Morgue building as seen from the top of the cemetery

A view inside the morgue

Front view of the morgue

View of Bodie from the morgue

A last view of Bodie from cemetery hill

Leaving Bodie behind us. .  For more on Bodie and if you plan to visit you can check HERE for info

Coming up Virginia City and Virginia City Cemetery

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bodie- Ghost Town

At the end of the beautiful scenic drive from the previous blog, we arrived here. Lee Vining, CA.  As the sign says Gateway to Yosemite, Mono Lake and Bodie.

Mono Lake

Bodie was 13 miles off the main highway on a road that is paved for 10 miles. This meant that Morticia (my car) had to do a little off roading. For a Scion she did pretty good! We passed a huge meadow filled with sheep, with herding dogs in attendance.

Just when you round the corner and think you are there. .  the paved road goes away.

The view from the road to Bodie at 8000 feet up in the mountains.

When I was about 9 I visited Bodie on the way home from a camping trip with my dad. I loved the feeling of the town and have never forgotten it. I was so excited to be able to see it again.

 Inside of the Presbyterian Church- The only one still standing.

Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States, about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe. It is located 12 miles (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport,[4] at an elevation of 8379 feet (2554 m). As Bodie Historic District, the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes it as a National Historic Landmark. The ghost town has been administered by California State Parks since becoming a state historic park in 1962, and receives about 200,000 visors yearly.about 200,000 visors yearly.

Bodie boomed from late 1877 through mid- to late 1880.The first newspaper, The Standard Pioneer Journal of Mono County, published its first edition on October 10, 1877. It started out as a weekly, but soon became a tri-weekly paper. It was also during this time that a telegraph line was built which connected Bodie with Bridgeport and Genoa, Nevada. California and Nevada newspapers predicted Bodie would become the next Comstock Lode.

There were now 2 of these fabulous old hearses in the small Bodie Museum. The hearse I saw on my first trip is not this one but the other one with the white casket inside.

This one!

This is Lottie Johl. I had read much about her in my research of Old West Soiled Doves. Her story is especially touching. In short, while she came to Bodie as a 'working girl', The local butcher ( who was a man of means and significance in town) fell in love with her, married her and sought to give her respectability. He built her a lovely house which still stands (photo coming up). But alas the proper ladies in town would not allow her to be accepted. After she became ill one day, a pharmacist made an error in filling her prescription and the medication caused her death.  Although the ladies of the town tried to prevent her from being buried inside the cemetery gates ( they wanted her outside as Rosa May, another famed Soiled Dove of Bodie ended up) Her husband was at last allowed to bury her near the back of the cemetery near the fence. He then ordered her the most elaborate grave enclosure in the cemetery. 


This is Lottie Johl's House. It was last used as a Post Office in the 1930's.

Fire Station. The fire bell would toll the age of the deceased during funerals. Bodie was a wild town with killings almost daily. The bell was always tolling.

The Mine

As a bustling gold mining center, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including two banks, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, a railroad, miners' and mechanics' unions, several daily newspapers, and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.

As with other remote mining towns, Bodie had a popular, though clandestinely important, red light district on the north end of town. From this is told the unsubstantiated story of Rosa May, a prostitute who, in the style of Florence Nightingale, came to the aid of the town menfolk when a serious epidemic struck the town at the height of its boom. She is credited with giving life-saving care to many, but was buried outside the cemetery fence.

Bodie had a Chinatown, the main street of which ran at a right angle to Bodie's Main Street, with several hundred Chinese residents at one point, and included a Taoist temple. Opium dens were plentiful in this area.

Bodie also had a cemetery on the outskirts of town and a nearby mortuary, which is the only building in the town built of red brick three courses thick, most likely for insulation to keep the air temperature steady during the cold winters and hot summers. The cemetery was Miners Union Cemetery, and includes a cenotaphto President James A. Garfield.

Boarding House

This is a view inside one of the houses. There were quite a few times that I had to do my best to get the photographs through the very thick, dirty vintage glass.

 The Boarding House Kitchen

Another view of the boarding house kitchen

Kitchen of a house

Rusty old car


The old school house. That is an old wooden globe in the foreground.

Vintage scales

The vintage glass is very thick and highly reflective.

Vintage safe in the Hotel office

Well with bucket

A view up Green street

Beautiful door. This house was open and we were able to go inside!

Outside of the only church still standing in Bodie. 

 Outhouse with classic Moon on the door.
The next blog post will be the Bodie cemetery, Morgue and Undertakers office. I just fell in love with Bodie. If you have a chance to visit and you love Ghost Towns it is one of the very best of the old West towns still around.
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