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

June 4, 2009 |  2:01 pm

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