Sunday, April 11, 2010

Calico, California - 1950's

Walter Knott was just plum crazy for ghost towns! He already had his berry farm version, the busiest ghost town ever. In 1951, he decided to purchase the actual ghost town of Calico, out in the Mojave Desert ("Hmmm, I think I'll buy a town today."), where he began to restore it as a tourist attraction.

Wikipedia sez: Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others were recreated as replicas of their originals on preexisting foundations.

I think it's pretty clear that this snazzy bottle house is one of the newer additions! Compare it to the one at Knott's Berry Farm.

Here are a few more buildings...

In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and Calico became a county regional park.

I went there at least once when I was a kid, and mostly remember the long drive ("Are we there yet?"), the intense heat, and panning for gold.

At its height, shortly after it was founded, Calico had a population of 1,200 people and over 500 silver mines;...In the mid 1890s the price of silver dropped and Calico's silver mines were no longer economically viable.

By 1907, the town was almost completely abandoned!

This is what a ghost town would look like if it was built on the moon! Imagine having to get here by horse, or maybe a wagon pulled by mules. I love the Mojave's stark beauty, but you had to be hardy to live here.

I'll share more Calico photos in the future!


Connie Moreno said...

Wow, I haven't been there since my son was 10...and he's 34 now!

The Viewliner Limited said...

Great pictures of one of my favorite places out here in the Mojave Desert. Just a few miles down the I-15 from where I live. Been there many times. Great place!

Chiana_Chat said...

wow it really gives a sense of the desolation (and desolate beauty if your eyes see it that way) of the place. Be happy to see more. :)

Matterhorn1959 said...

Have not been there recently, but have been tempted to stop by when driving between Colorado and California. Nice images for a different roadside attraction.

Anonymous said...

The headstones in the old cemetery there are very interesting to read. Some are very sad, recording the short lives of children who did not survive infancy.

Under the veneer of the Knotts theme park feel, there is the remnant of a real place where people lived and died.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disrespecting Knotts for what they did with Calico. If they had not taken it on, the town would be like so many other ghost towns, instead of relatively preserved for our education.

I don't "love" this place like the theme parks; the feeling is deeper and darker than that, since the spirit of those who came before can still be felt.