Sunday, May 30, 2010

Calico Ghost Town, June 1958

We're back in the Mojave Desert for a return visit to Calico. See part one here.

Here's a nice general view up one of the streets, and it all looks pretty barren. You wouldn't mistake it for Disneyland! Those dead trees appear to have been added, their bare branches made the ghost town look even more ghostly. Plus it's a good place to put a noose if you need to hang a desperado. The little mine train in the distance must be the "Calico and Odessa Railroad". Notice that the people in the street are all wearing long coats - it must be cold!

That's a pretty neat looking old fire wagon. Steam powered pumps? Makes me wonder if they actually had some sort of working fire engine; all of that old dry wood is a disaster waiting to happen.

There are the weathered remains of some of the original Calico structures. There's the little mine train again, along with various ore carts and wagons and ramshackle structures.

I'll have more Calico for you, so stay tuned!


Chiana_Chat said...

Cool, I'm enjoying these!

That's one cramped room above the restaurant (2nd pic). Fires as you know were incredibly disastrous then in places like that. Many (most?) have been erased from the Earth by fire.

Was the cross original? ;) In fact one wonders what was. Still, the extreme desolation of that landscape is plain and you still can see how harsh it must have been.

Chuck said...

Calico is a fond memory - the last place my family visited in California as we moved out of the state back in the mid-70s. Knott's Berry Farm had whetted my appetite for the ghost town concept, and to not only visit a real one but THE ghost town that inspired the one in Buena Park was a special treat. These photos bring back some good memories - thanks for posting.

Regarding that tiny room above the restaurant, it was originally built by Walter Knott as an apartment for his grandkids... :-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Chiana, I wouldn't be too surprised if Walter Knott put the cross there, but I don't really know.

Chuck, I believe that you mean that Walter Knott used that room as an apartment for Walt Disney's grandkids!

Nancy said...

these are very this (or anything) there at the location now?

i would love to see a ghost town!

Major Pepperidge said...

Hi Nancy - Yes, Calico is still there! According to Wikipedia "... the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, a restaurant, the Calico & Odessa Railroad and a number of general merchandise stores. It is open daily, and requires an entrance fee. Calico is a registered California historic monument and the "official state silver rush ghost town" of California."

Katella Gate said...

Fire was the death kiss for many of these towns for all the obvious reasons. The "Better" towns (ones that did not spring up from random shacks beside the road) arranged for streets to be 50-100 feet wide. Better for a block to go up in flames than the whole town.

Chuck said...

Actually, Walt Disney's grandkids shared the apartment in a time-share deal with Walter Knott's grandkids. The Disney brood had it the first and third weekends of the month, while the Knotts had the second and fourth weekends, alternating any odd fifth weekend that might come up. Major holidays like Christmas, July 4th, and Arbor Day were doled out on the lottery system, although the Knotts had first right of pre-emption through 1966 since their family owned the place.

There was a major dispute over who would take possession over Groundhog Day weekend 1963. The Disney clan based their case on an obscure passage in the original land grant given to Robert d'Isigny by William the Conqueror in 1067, which they understood to include not only the village of Norton Disney in Lincolnshire but also any silver and borax mines that might be discovered within 100 miles of 34 degrees north latitude and 116 degrees west longitude. The Knotts countered that they still employed professional gunfighters and they weren't afraid to use them. The dispute was settled when it was discovered that there had been a gross mis-translation of the original medieval French document, and the actual passage in question had been a recipe for spam and noodle casserole.

walterworld said...

Calico is alive and well. I stopped there with my family back in 2004. They have a great 'Haunted Shack' and Mine Train ride...

I hope to go back again next year.

More Calico please...


Anonymous said...

Major, I agree those trees have to be props.

In that county, no plant of any size can grow without immediate proximity to water, usually subsurface springs. In fact, trees of size are a definite sign of subsurface water.

Springs of this type are almost universally found high up in the end of the wash canyons.

There would never be enough natural water to sustain trees of that size in those locations among the buildings, and the trees are too big to have been cultured in those spots in the time of Calico's heyday.

Similar sites such as Skidoo and Bodie are notably tree-free, except for the naturally-occurring locations at the head of the canyon washes.

I love Calico, thanks for the pics.