Tuesday, August 11, 2009
It must have been the dauntingly tall image of a man standing just to the side of a desert road that grabbed our attention on our drive back from Las Vegas to L.A.
At first Ian and I weren't sure what we were looking at, but we pulled off of Interstate 15 anyway once we saw the exit for Calico Ghost Town in Yermo, Calif. Maybe you wouldn't have done that. I don't blame you.
And, of course we were listening to the nostalgic sounds of old '50s tunes. That, coupled with driving through the vast, parched desert, seemed like the obvious opener to a really scary horror movie. Having a trusting toddler in the back seat only contributed to our sense of dread.
We drove the three miles from the Interstate along Ghost Town Road, wondering if we'd done something really insane. I mean, this would be the perfect place to have a flat. And all the homes with "For Sale" signs out front didn't make us feel any better.
Once we reached Calico, nestled into the side of King Mountain, we drove past the empty(!) admission booth and proceeded to the parking lot. It was there that we saw the buildings of a former mining community ... and all the tourists who apparently had the same idea.
Yeah, it's not so scary once you get inside.
According to Calico's Web site: "Calico was developed in 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. Located at the side of towering King Mountain, the town was named for the variety of colors in the mountain that were 'as purty as a gal's calico skirt.' Calico boomed during 1881-1896; but the end came to the silver rush in 1896 and by 1904 Calico had become a ghost town."
Also, only 1/3 of the original buildings still stand, and the others have been reconstructed in the same style.
CC loved running up Main Street and investigating the various (working) shops that lined it. Some ghost towns still have employees, after all. She collected rocks, played on bails of hay and even eyed hand-crafted miniature covered wagons. It's definitely a fascinating place, one I'd make another trip to see again.
We grabbed some chow at the local restaurant, which served buffalo burgers and BBQ. The drinks even arrived in over-sized Mason jars. Our waitress told us that one of the staff lives on-site. Wonder where ... there wasn't really much in the way of a hotel. In fact, the place is also known for its camping.
Now that takes some courage ... spending the night in the desert. In a tent. In a ghost town.
Yeah, no thanks.
Calico Ghost Town
P.O. Box 638
Yermo, CA 92398
For Reservations Call
Kids (ages 6-15): $3
Kids (ages 5 and under): Free
(Not sure why they didn't charge admission the day we were there.)