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With Bodie ghost town targeted for closure, what becomes of the past?

A young girl walks past Bodie's old Methodist Church. If you cease funding and maintenance of a ghost town and it crumbles and fades into the landscape, what happens to the ghosts?

Have you been to Bodie State Historic Park in the Eastern Sierra? If so you probably experienced a sensation of time travel and envisioned yourself with a pistol strapped to your leg, walking a dusty street at high noon while waiting for a saloon fight to break out.

Bodie is a genuine gold-mining ghost town where once lived 10,000 people. Now it's on the list of 220 state parks slated for closure if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's planned funding cuts are approved, and that leaves one to sadly ponder whether a treasured piece of our past, which requires upkeep, will simply fade into obscurity.

Mammoth Lakes is doing more than pondering. It has determined that closing Bodie and nearby Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve would cost California more than double what it would cost to keep them open.

According to a report on KSRW radio's website, Sheryl Watson of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, in a memo, stated that closing both parks would save $149 million, but would cost more than $350 million in lost tourism-related revenue.

Mammoth Town Manager Rob Clark told the council that closures of both parks would also diminish sales taxes collected by the state and the town and Mono County's share of sales and hotel taxes. Understandably, the council has complained to state representatives.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: A young girl walks past Bodie's old Methodist Church. Credit: Bob Carey/Los Angeles Times

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Comments (11)

My great-grandfather lived there with his wife and three children. I've been planning to go there, sometime.

California has already passed an Anti dredging Law, now they are about to close Coloma State Park, and Bodie Ghost Town State Park. It appears that the anti mining group in California Government want to close any thing connected with the mining history or activities. Where does it stop? The tree huggers are against any type of mining and are doing a good job of destroying our mining history.

When is Bodie scheduled to close down?


Fascinating. Naturally, the State didn't think through these larger aspects of the taxation and revenue problem.

The goal should always be to bring dollars in. Tourism brings in dollars that wouldn't otherwise be spent in California. Mammoth Lakes is a huge sales/hotel tax paying area - pay attention, State Parks people~~!

Unfortunately, I'm not sure the Parks people read the newspapers, or academic resources - or any information-gathering sources, at all. Mammoth Lakes citizens - write the Parks department!

Our governor is telling all of us we must give up everything, I have yet to hear of anything he is giving up. Putting so many people out of work is counter productive. We need people to be working and putting money into the state rather than taking from it thru unemployment.
As for the state parks, I doubt that the governor has ever even been to a state park. Closing so many state parks will further slow the flow of money. Why not put on on major ad campaign to remind people what is available in our state parks. This is a time when people are staying closer to home for vacations, why not capitalize on that? If people are spending money at, and around the parks, we are increasing the flow of money.
People from all over the world want to come to California to spend time and money. The "shut-down" attitude in place now is telling potential visitors, Don't come here to spend time, we no longer believe in our home why should anyone else? Does the legislature have no more faith in what California has to offer? Do we?

I saw Bodie before it went to the state park system. It was going into disrepair...the state helped. They knew history was important.

Our governor and his wife hate history and state parks. During this tough economic times, they love video games and want to put electronic text books in all our classrooms. State parks...,nature....picnics....camping....the governor does not use them....so of course, close them down. The people can stay home.


Nevermind closing the state parks, I think we should sign a petion to close wasteful Sacramento government down and keep the parks open.

The parks bring tourists and help fuel our economy here in california.
During these tough economic times, visiting our state parks is one of the last things families can still enjoy & afford .
Wake up people dont let this happen. Bodie is a jewel in californias crown and no where else can you enjoy anything like this dont let them take it from us.

i cant belive they would close this park ,it is so full of neet things to see and do .But california has to pay for the laker parade??? so that they can riot in the streets and cause more damage to our state ? Every person in california should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen to bodie!!

This is so typical of government at all levels. The general public really needs to send a loud message to Sacramento to start cutting Department jobs and Commissions that are sucking the monetary life out of the state. Unions also need to be told there isn't the money for their outrageous salaries and benefits. This is also true for city and county government.

Arnold plans to ruin not just Bodie, but other integral parts of California's history. Sutter's Fort and Columbia State Historic Park, the two places where fourth graders can feel the past come alive, are due to be shuttered.



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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.