Of course I'd rather be wandering around some medieval village or town but that's not really available in California. What we do seem to have a lot of are ghost towns. No, these aren't haunted towns, though, I suppose, they could be. These are towns that sprung up--boom towns in the beginning--because of a gold or silver claim. When the claim dried up, the towns were abandoned, sometimes with items left as they lay, with curtains on the windows and dishes on the table, with only ghosts as citizens.
In this case, we visited Calico for the weekend, located in Yermo, California (it's on the road to Las Vegas, in case you're wondering).
Calico, so named for the varied colors of ores adorning its hillsides, sprung out of the southern California desert around 1881 and became the largest silver strike in California. But it was all over by 1891 when silver lost its value. It became depopulated, a "ghost town," and the mines where abandoned.
Around 1951, Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm fame (a local boy), bought the ghost town and refurbished it before deeding it to San Bernardino County. Unlike ghost towns like Bodie (a real must-see for ghost town afficiadados)--a ghost town preserved in "arrested decay," that is, they stopped its further deterioration and left the buildings standing or falling down as they found it--Calico is a bit more touristy in nature, with shops and restaurants. Walter Knott took some of the buildings and put it up near his berry farm in Buena Park for something for the tourists to do while they were waiting for their Boysenberry pie and chicken dinners. But in Calico, there are a few structures and a mine to venture into, not to mention the amazing seismic landscape on view. Let's take a look:
Yup, there is a fault running under this area, the Calico Fault. This is a geologist's paradise with its uplifting and folding sedimentary layers.
A rare view of Hubster Domesticus perched on a rock at our campsite.
Some corny stuff throughout, including live "gunfights" and Saspirilla in the "saloon," a train ride, and gold panning, but if you snoop around and go into the Lucy Lane House Museum, you can learn a thing or two about its history, how California dealt with the Civil War, or venture into the Maggie Mine to look around at the hard rock mining these stalwart pioneers engaged in.
Why do they always make the mannequins so creepy in these displays?
If you are a lover of all things wild west then you really can't pass it up. My hubby loves to photograph the decaying remnants of desert dwellers and he knows where all the ghost towns in California are hiding.