Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wierd Scenes Inside the Gold Mine

"Late for Breakfast" - Bodie, CA

Or in this case, inside the gold mining ghost town, to be exact. (Some of you from the same generation as me will recall that snippet of lyrics from the Doors "The End", which I am listening to right now because it sets the mood perfectly.)
The town of Bodie is found in a desolate high-plains area east of Yosemite and north of Mono Lake, 13 miles down a dirt road from the main highway, almost right on the Nevada border. It began as a small mining camp around 1876 and grew to it's ultimate size of 10,000 people/2000 buildings in 1880. Think of "Deadwood" if you ever watched that HBO series; it once had 65 saloons on Main Street, it's own Chinatown with opium dens and plenty of wild times... the epitome of a lawless wild west boom town. You can feel how hard life must have been here... although at 8400 ft. elevation, this is not the mountains; rather open, grassy hills where the wind howls and deep snow falls in the winter, while the sun beats down relentlessly in the summer. Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter" was filmed just south of here, near Mono Lake.
As the supply of gold dwindled over the years, so did the population, until there were only about 120 residents left in 1920. A fire destroyed much of the town in 1932 and the last of the mines officially closed in 1942. The remaining buildings have been preserved exactly as they were left; stores still have goods on the shelves, some houses have furniture inside, child-size coffins are on display at the undertaker (very creepy), so the overall feeling you get from this place is decidedly ghostly.
Photographically, it's the kind of spot that, ideally, you can get to when the sky is stormy and dramatic, but unless you live in the area or get lucky, you just have to make do. It's also a "gold mine" of textures, tones and untold stories if you concentrate more on the buildings and the interiors. I think it's worth a few posts and I feel like a short break from pure landscape subjects. The small images are clickable for a higher rez view on this post.
There's danger on the edge of town
Ride the kings highway, baby.
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby.
-Jim Morrison


Gaelyn said...

This looks like my kind of town, except for the heat and snow. It is kind of creepy to see the place settings on the table with all the layers of dust. Great captures. I look forward to more.

Carolyn Ford said...

Oh Wow! I also look forward to more! I have been to Bodie but without a camera...imagine that! I want to return with a different purpose...very interesting! Thank you for sharing the sights of a very intriguing place!

donnie said...

beautifully evocative - the lamp is amazing

Unknown said...

Hello Mark,

Tones and exposure are surprising but excellent. These old and desolate houses always make great subject.

Unknown said...

Oooh, I love this post, Mark. Beautiful images. I just love old stuff...weathered wood, that old iron bed peeking through there. And of course who doesn't like Clint's spaghetti westerns and The Doors. "The End" always reminds me of "Apocalypse Now" and I guess there are some parallels here...the bleakness maybe.

Despite the heavy snows and scorching heat, I wanna go there. Thanks for sharing your captures!

Joanne Olivieri said...

I really enjoy exploring sights such as these. The imagination runs wild. Thanks for bringing these photos to us.

Ashrays said...

lovely quality of tone and light in the main shot mark :)

reminds me off some shots of the abandoned buildings the lighthouse keepers on ailsa craig lived in

Jeannette StG said...

Daring to do this pic in pink and mint green!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, your cause brain fotogrfiile pleasant reactions, felicitari.Lucian.

Roger Gauthier said...

This is my first look at your blog, Mark. I am very impressed by your black and white treatment of the old town.

A true work of art.

Roger Gauthier