Bodie State Historic Park
Take a trip back in time to the mid 1800’s to see how a small town in the Bodie Hills grew to a thriving boomtown after gold was discovered in 1875. In 1962 the State of California designated Bodie as a National Historic Site and State Historic Park. The remaining town is in what state parks defines as a state of “arrested decay”. This small ghost town is one of the few desert ghost towns we have found to be accessible to wheelchair and scooter users. The dirt roads through town are just as they were back inn the day, littered with small rocks of all shapes, potholes and ruts. Navigating some to these roads can be challenging but the experience is worth the challenge. From the main gate is is an easy down hill road that will take you to the west side of town onto Green Street and the Methodist Church. At the time of our last visit and this writing (oct. 2010), none of the buildings have wheelchair access, this includes the Methodist Church. However, several of the remaining structures do have some window access that will provide some photographic opportunities.
A stop at the Museum and Visitors Center during your visit is a must. The museum is in the Miners Union Hall and access is easy up the boardwalk ramp and a short ramp into the museum. Admission is free but you can make a deposit in the donation box to help support the museum. They have collected many historical artifacts including records, letters and paychecks from the original miners. Business was always booming at the city Morgue and the original Morgue Hearse can be seen in the museum as well. The museum is easily accessible for both wheelchair and scooter users. Take as much time as you want and take as many pictures as you want, they even have a annual contest for photos to be used in the next years calendar.
If you are interested in photographing a Bodie sunrise, or, without the crowds of visitors, the Bodie Foundation offers what they call “Photographers Day”. They offer Photographers Days the 3rd Saturday of each month, May through October. The cost is $75 and the time is from sunrise to 9 am when the park officially opens. We participated in a photographers day in early October and was rewarded with many wonderful images of Bodie during the golden light of sunrise. Some of our images can be seen in our SmugMug gallery.
We had planned on photographing the Cemetery during Photographers Day but discovered it not to be accessible to either wheelchairs or Scooters. We were told by the park ranger that the cemetery itself is not accessible and the road up is fairly steep and rocky, so we decided to skip it.
There are many photographic opportunities throughout the park, many have been photographed at every angle possible……maybe not. We discovered many interesting POV’s that produced unique imagery of this historic ghost town. Bodie, like each location we photograph, we start with a fresh look, we leave our preconceptions at home. Even in the harsh afternoon sun we found ourselves photographing textures, single elements with strong shadows and reflections of the old windows. I photographed all day using only two lenses. My 24mm and my 70-200mm on my FF camera body.
For more information see Bodie SHP