Bodie California is a state historic park and even though it's slightly touristy it's still worth a visit. It makes a great side trip if you're in the Mono Lake area. Bodie was a gold mining center. It peaked in population from 1870-80. According to the Wikipedia article the peak population was 5000-7000 in 1879 although the census of 1880 counted only 2,712 and Bodie doesn't appear in the 1870 census tables I looked at. By the 1920 census the population of Bodie was down to 110. By 1943 the population of Bodie was 3. Bodie has a remarkable number of intact structures for a place that has not had residents for 70 years. The reason for it's state of preservation is that Bodie was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and became a state park in 1962.
The park has a year round staff of caretakers inspite of the fact that it's closed to the public during winter months. The buildings are preserved in a state of 'arrested decay". All of the exposed wood surfaces are treated with a preservative similar to Thomsons water sealer or Flood. This gives the buildings an unnatural amber hue and slight sheen.
The massive stamp mill and associated industrial buildings were the ones I was most interested in looking at. Unfortunately they are fenced off and inaccessible unless you go on a limited, guided tour.
I visited in August at the peak of tourist season and estimate that there were around 50-100 other visitors while I was there. The site is big enough though that it didn't feel crowded.
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