Sunday, October 24, 2010

Looking into the Past 3

Ghost towns, ghost people. The whole place has the air of obsolescence about it.
Jean Braudrillard

In all the times I've photographed in Bodie, I've never had a ghost encounter or "ghostly photos". This past visit though I became intrigued with the reflections hitting the windows combined with the objects I've was trying to capture. I ended up with almost a "ghostly" montage effect that I liked.

Others however claim to have had experiences. I went to and found a few of those stories. Urban tales or truth....who knows, but they do make for some delicious shivers this close to Halloween....

In addition to being a ghost town, Bodie has quite a few ghost stories associated with it. Perhaps the most famous haunted house in Bodie is the Cain house. Jim Cain was a shrewd businessman who made a fortune bringing lumber to the treeless town of Bodie. Nearly everything was made from wood in Bodie, homes were heated with it, and the mills used enormous quantities for their steam engines. Mr. Cain built himself a home in central Bodie at the corner of Green and Park Streets and hired a Chinese woman to be the family maid. Soon after, rumors floated through the town that Mr. Cain was having an affair with the maid and Mrs. Cain promptly fired her. Disgraced and unable to find honest work the former maid committed suicide.

It has been reported that her ghost haunts the remains of the Cain House. Over the years the house has served as park ranger housing and has been open to visitors. Children have reported seeing the maid's ghostly face in the upstairs bedroom. Visitors have reported hearing the sound of music coming from the same unoccupied upstairs bedroom. Several park rangers and their families have reported unnerving experiences in the house. In one famous case the wife of a park ranger said:

"I was lying in bed with my husband in the lower bedroom and I felt a pressure on me, as though someone was on top of me. I began fighting. I fought so hard I ended up on the floor. It really frightened me. Another ranger who had lived there, Gary Walters, had the same experience, in the same room, except that he also saw the door open and felt a presence and a kind of suffocation."

A daughter of a park ranger had a less extreme yet no less bizarre experience. One night she went to bed in the upstairs bedroom. She turned off the lights and got in bed. The lights promptly turned back on. She got up, turned off the lights, and tried again to get in bed only to have the lights turn on by themselves. This happened several more times before the child screamed for the ghosts to leave her alone and fled the room in tears.

Strange sounds and noises have been reported emanating from in or around many of the buildings in Bodie. An unsettling experience in a ghost town noted for its absolute quiet. One house, the Mendocini house, has had reports of children laughing outside, as well as a report from one ranger who, while sitting quietly inside reading, began to hear the sounds of a party. He left the building to investigate, assuming the sounds were coming from outside, only to discover that they were coming from inside the house and even louder than before. He thanked the ghosts for trying to throw him a party but insisted that he had a lot of reading to do. The sounds stopped.

The ghosts of the Mendocini house must like cooking as much as they like a lively party. It's rumored that sometimes when the house is opened up after a long winter it smells of Italian cooking.

In other buildings, visitors have reported seeing objects move on their own or have feelings that they are being followed or watched from the windows.

Perhaps the most famous supernatural aspect of Bodie isn't a particular ghost or haunted house but a curse. The infamous curse of Bodie. According to the legend, the spirits of former residents protect the town from all those who would remove parts of it. Anyone who removes something, regardless of size, from Bodie is cursed with bad luck and misfortune until the removed items are returned. According to park rangers, every year they receive objects in the mail taken from Bodie. Sometimes these objects are received with anonymous letters of apology to both the town and its guardian spirits.

So you can see Bodie has quite a history and reputation. It is what keeps me coming back. It's too interesting not to.

Ghost Town: Bodie, Part 2:

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