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