I seldom drive the interstate north toward Las Vegas and when I do, I don’t stop to sightsee.  Yes, I’ve heard of the Calico Ghost Town, but always I breezed right by on my way to other places.  This week I made a point to stop and see the place. Calico is about three miles northeast of Barstow.  Driving from the Los Angeles basin to the Mojave is a strange experience.  Once I hit the high desert, the great outdoors opened up.

Interstate 15 heading toward Las Vegas

Interstate 15 heading toward Las Vegas

After living in a place surrounded by mountains and houses, I found the open desert shocking.  The land seems to go on forever!  In the above photo, I see there’s land for sale.  Who knows how long it will be before all this land will be developed for fast food places.  I had better appreciate it now.

Although most of the original buildings have disappeared, Calico Ghost Town still attracts a large number of visitors each year.  On the day of my visit, I was one of the first to arrive.  (After about an hour, the tour buses started to hit the parking lot.)  I paid my fee to the county; the town is now a regional park.  A shuttle took me from the parking lot to the town. It’s a short ride uphill.

The Main Street as one enters Calico

The Main Street as one enters Calico Ghost Town

Of course, I never plan these things exactly right, and this outing was no exception as I neglected to remember that this is October.  I went to Calico expecting miners and cowboys.  Instead, ghosts and goblins waited at the gate!

A Halloween greeting at the entrance to Calico

A Halloween greeting at the entrance to Calico

Sometimes plans go a little askew.  I tried to avoid the decorations and focus on the buildings.  Lots of things caught my eye.  Rickety wagons probably do not date back to the 19th century, but they add a nice touch.  I liked them because their angles complemented the mountains in the background.

Old wagon in front of the rugged mountains at Calico

Old wagon in front of the rugged mountains at Calico

I found several odd things to photograph.  This dangerous walkway was off limits or I would have tried it.  Well, maybe not.

Wooden walkway over a ravine in Calico

Wooden walkway over a ravine in Calico

I did climb the lookout point and made a few photos from above the town.  No one else seemed interested in the view.  The rock formation in the following photo is similar to my position.  The formation and I were spying on the town.

Rock formation above the town of Calico

This rock looks like a gargoyle to me.

My greatest adventure took place in the blacksmith shop which I had walked by on my way up the hill.  Coming back through town, I stopped simply on a whim.  It was so dark inside I thought it was deserted, but I was wrong; a smith was inside.

Klaus, the blacksmith, making a triangle at Calico Ghost Town

Klaus, the blacksmith, making a triangle at Calico Ghost Town

Other tourists soon joined me to watch as the blacksmith worked the iron.  However, none but I stayed to see the finished creation, a triangle, and ringer.  The smith’s name is Klaus.  Of course, we chatted briefly.  I found out that he made the big mammoth the stands on a hill overlooking the CA-60 freeway.

Calico Ghost Town isn’t as authentic as California’s other prized town, Bodie, but there is a smattering of historical significance here. In addition, Calico is freeway-close, being just off the interstate.  Calico is also kid-friendly with a few diversions and a train ride.

I enjoyed my time in Calico and can honestly report that after neglecting the place for decades, I’m glad I paid a visit.

To see more of my images from Calico Ghost Town, please click here.

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