With an abundance of gold, silver, and oil during the 19th-century, California became the land of opportunity for those looking to strike it rich in the Old West. But as time went on and the mineral reserves were depleted, residents left looking for new opportunities and abandoned their homes, leaving behind a trail of ghost towns.
Check out these 5 ghost towns in California, where visitors can revisit the past and catch a glimpse of the former glory days and rich history of the Sunshine State. Some have been beautifully restored, while others remain in the original state they were left in over 150 years ago.
Top 5 Ghost Towns Worth Visiting in California
A ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Mono County, Bodie was one a flourishing gold mining town in the late 1800s. Now there are 100 remaining structures, including a museum, that have been preserved in their original condition that date back to 1962 when California turned the property into a State Park. In the warm months, Bodie is open from 9am to 6pm; winter hours are from 9am to 3pm. Admission is $7 per adult and $5 for children 16 and under.
Now a California State Historic Park, Mentryville is located 35 miles north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita Valley. Established in 1876, it was the first oil boom town in California, but became a ghost town in the early 1900s when the canyon’s oil deposits were depleted and the town residents moved away. Several preserved buildings remain for visitors to explore, including a barn, a 13-room mansion, a schoolhouse, and a dance hall.
3. Death Valley Junction
With a reported population of four, Death Valley Junction is located a few miles west of the California-Nevada border near Death Valley National Park. The tiny Mojave Desert community is best known for the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, where owner and retired actress Marta Becket still performs to this day. Brightly colored murals are painted throughout the 23-room hotel, which is open year-round for visitors. Tickets cost $20 and may be purchased at the hotel’s front desk.
Founded in 1881 during California’s largest silver strike, Calico later lost its wealth (and residents) when the value of silver decreased in the mid-1890s. The town was architecturally restored in the 1950s, and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared it “California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town.” Now people from around the world come to visit Calico, which has shops, restaurants, and unlike other ghost towns, offers camping for visitors. The town is located off the I-15 at the Ghost Town Road Exit in Yermo, just over an hour north of San Bernardino. Calico is open to visitors daily from 9 to 5pm. Admission is $8, which includes entrance to the museum, mine, and a train ride through the town.
5. North Bloomfield
Once a bustling town that was home to over 2,000 people, North Bloomfield became a ghost town after mining was made illegal in 1884. Located in Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (26 miles northeast of Nevada City), most of the buildings in North Bloomfield–which include a former church, eight saloons, several breweries, and a school–remain in great condition. The State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the museum, buildings and town tours are only open during the summer season.
This article was written by Kamala Kirk.