Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Scenes From Calico Ghost Town

Today I am posting the last of my vintage photos of Calico, the former silver-mining town out in the Mojave desert that was turned into a tourist attraction by Walter Knott. There are many similarities to Knott's Berry Farm's ghost town.

BUT FIRST, blog reader "JG" (Juan Gonzalez?) was kind enough to send me some of his own photos of Calico taken during a trip in 2004. He took a ghost tour late in the evening (that sounds like fun!), and then attended a church service the next morning before heading to some place called the Grand Canyon. I think I've heard of it.

First up is his photo of the morning church services. I wonder if they do this every Sunday? I like the open-air stage doing double-duty as a chapel. I'm sure the quiet and emptiness of the desert add to the services.

Here's a nice bust of Walter Knott, I'm glad that he is remembered at Calico, even though he donated the place to San Bernardino County back in 1966. JG apologized for the long shadows, but I like the way the streets look as the sun is just coming up. If you ever forget where you are, the name of the town is on the hillside in giant white letters!

And for the last of JG's photos, a nice shot looking up one of the streets. There is a surprising number of people there so early. Or is it almost sunset??

JG mentioned that he took a lot of photos of the graveyard. Well, he didn't send any of those, but I have lots of vintage pictures of the place. I'm not sure if it is ever referred to as "Boot Hill", but I want to call it that anyway. Here's the entrance to the cemetery; somehow in the bright sun and the deep blue sky, it looks relatively cheery.

In the grand tradition of old West cemeteries, the grave markers have funny or sardonic epitaphs etched on the rough wood. Joe Crabbe apparently liked a bottle of Zima now and then.

One had to worry about varmints when burying a body. A pile of rocks will help deter them. But not me!

Proof that life in the desert was harsh, and that working the silver mines could be deadly.

And here's one last view of the final resting place for some unfortunate people who lived and died here so many years ago.

MANY THANKS to JG (whoever you are!) for sharing his photos of Calico!


Chiana_Chat said...

Thank you JG and thank you Major, the series of Calico pictures has been a wonderful feature.

Although as was said, much has been done to the place (I hesitate to ask about the cemetery), it clearly remains a vivid reminder of a time and a striking place at any time.

I'm surprised at the pavement. Makes it look so settled. Good of Walter Knott to donate it.

Katella Gate said...

Remember man, now passing by,
As thou art now, so once was I,
As I am now, so shalt thou be,
For Death prepare, and follow me.

JG said...

Major, thank you for using my pix. I hope they show that Calico has been well treated by Knotts and the current public custodians.

All photos were taken early morning, the church service was at dawn. This was a function of the Calico operation, not a special event for my group. I can only identify one of our group in the audience, everyone else there were other guests, probably campers in the campground, pretty good attendance for a dawn service.

All my pics of the cemetery are from a 1980's visit. Not sure when yours are taken, but looks very much as I remember it from then. Boot Hill term wasn't used here AFAIK. Virginia City up the road called their cemetery Boot Hill for sure.

@Chiana: The cemetery is well maintained and not "enhanced". As far as I can tell, the markers (including poetry) are original. Major posts some of the funnier ones, but many are very sad, reflecting the passing of wives and (very young)children, cut short by disease and privation in this remote and desperate place. Very moving to me and respectfully treated by the Owners.

@Katella: Most appropriate.

Thanks friends, for letting me share.


Chiana_Chat said...

Fantastic to hear JG thanks. Most apt, Katella.

Nancy said...

wow, these are great. looks like a wonderful place to see and one does easily realize how life was in the untamed times of America. a beautiful tribute to those who forged ahead so that all of us could pass by someday as well

thanks to JG and to Major for sharing them

Connie Moreno said...

Juan Gonzalez! (JG) We must be primos!! (cousins)

JG said...

@Connie, alas no, but we certainly share a number of common interests and blog reading.

Best to you.