Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Calico, California - March 1963

Today we'll drive about 2 hours, headed northeast to San Bernardino County (way out in the Mojave Desert) to Calico Ghost Town! I've blogged about it before, but as a reminder I'll mention that Walter Knott purchased Calico back in 1951 (having worked there as a laborer back in his youth) and began restoring the former silver-mining town; it attracted tourists for miles around.

I love this sign!

Here's a picturesque shot of the parking lot. And I know how much you all love photographs of parking lots.

There's silver in them thar hills! Or at least there used to be. Just imagine being here in the middle of the summer, digging in a mine all day. Sweaty? You bet! I would've opened a Slurpee stand and watched the money come rolling in.

This appears to be some sort of little funicular railroad that I wasn't previously aware of. It used to shuttle people from the parking lot up to the ghost town, and I'm pretty sure it's no longer in operation.

This kid is getting in touch with his inner Munster by sitting in the driver's seat of an old-fashioned hearse.

Stay tuned for more photos from Calico Ghost Town!


TokyoMagic! said...

I want a boysenberry slurpee! I have to get over to Calico one of these days! Oh, speaking of hearses...I just noticed last Friday that the two antique hearses at Knott's have disappeared! They had moved them a couple years ago, but now they are nowhere to be found. I would have gone into Guest Relations and asked about them, but I know they would have just said, "What hearses?" I hope they are not in that "special" place with the Calico Mine Train ticket booth and the Original Berry Stand! :-(

Mike said...

I haven't been to Calico since the 90s, but the funicular lift was still working, bringing guest from the parking lot up to the town. It's time for me to take my own kids for a visit!

Connie Moreno said...

I've been to Calico 3 times, the last time in the mid 1990's. I didn't know that Walter Knott owned it since 1951. I thought they acquired it in the 90s because on my first two visits, I saw no clue about Knott. Yet on my last trip, EVERYTHING had the Knott name on it: candy, cups, souviniers, etc.

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, I'm sure the hearses are just being refurbished! :-/

Mike, I saw some recent photos online that showed the funicular looking very abandoned, but can't say for sure.

Connie, Walter Knott donated Calico to the city of San Bernardino in 1966, so I am surprised that the Knott name is still so prevalent there.

Nancy said...

this has been one of my favorite side trips from Disneyland. what a pretty view!

has the area surrounding it been built up as it has around Disneyland and KBF?

Gojira said...

Thanks for posting these photos! I was to Calico in June 2005 and really enjoyed it. It wasn't very busy the day we were there and I got the distinct impression the place just wasn't as popular as it once was. There were a number of vacancies where shops had once been. It just had a general feel to it that it was just hanging on. The souvenir booklet I got was a reprint but was the same one I am sure people were buying in these photos.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nancy, since Calico is way out in the inhospitable desert, it has remained relatively isolated. Look at Google Maps to see: Google Map

Gojira, I haven't been to Calico since I was a little kid; the long drive (with nothing else out there to tempt me) keeps me away! Part of me would love to see it, though.

The Viewliner Limited said...

Great pics Major. Just a ways down the freeway from me. Always a great desert place to visit. I love the desert. But I must admit... 120 in the shade is getting a little old, and me too! Hah! LOL!

Sebastian said...

The family and I just went out to Calico over the Christmas break. Not much has changed but the funicular (which was working in the 90s) was no longer being used and looked quite abandoned.

Anonymous said...

Old parking lots = classic cars! And funicular is mighty fun to say! I got my money's worth today, thank you.


Douglas McEwan said...

I was there once in the late-80s, when we shot a TV commercial there. Our commercial (for a then-new JVC home video camera) was done as a parody of the Clint Eaaswood spaghetti westerns, with me as Clint Eastwood. We had a gun duel, except when I "drew," instead of a gun, I pulled out the new JVC camera.

I mostly remember a loooooonnnnnnnng drive out there, and anouther loooonnnnnng drive back with the crew, who were all bitching about how lazy the director was. It was theorized that he was Superman, since whenever there was work to be done (Non-union crew. Everyone was expected to help unload and load equipment, except actors), he vanished, obviously off rescuing someone.

The director was Japanese and spoke no English, so we had to have all our directions translated, and simple questions to him took forever to get translated, answered, and the answers translated.

But it was a lovely location, and looked great in the finished commercial. (Which only aired in Japan.) And since the director didn't speak English, he never understood why everyone else laughed whenever Superman was mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Great Calico pics for sure. That water buffalo sign was still there, but the funicular rail was shut down at the time of our last visit in 2004.

Knotts owned this ghost town from way back, maybe even before 1951. It's a little bit commercialized, more so than a state or national park would be, but is still very original in feeling.

And hot, brothers and sisters, hot as hell's brazen hinges.


Douglas McEwan said...

When it is hot, it IS hot, but when I was there it was quite mild. I had to wear a heavy wool pancho as part of my costume, and if it had been hot, I would have been roasting, but I was comfortable all day.

It all depends on when you go. DON'T go there in the summer. Right about now it would be nice though.

Major Pepperidge said...

Yeah, I think all you have to do is look at those barren hillsides and try to imagine what it would be like in +100 degree heat. You're right, now would be a good time to go!