Barstow California Ghost Town: A Journey Through Time
Nestled in the heart of the Mojave Desert lies Barstow California Ghost Town, a fascinating destination that transports visitors back to the days of the Wild West. This historic silver mining town, also known as Calico Ghost Town, offers a unique glimpse into the past and reminds of the rich history that shaped the region.
This comprehensive guide will explore the various attractions, activities, and stories that make Barstow California Ghost Town a must-visit destination for history buffs, adventurers, and ghost hunters alike.
A Brief History of Barstow California Ghost Town
The Boom of the Silver Mining Era
Calico, the Barstow California Ghost Town, was founded in 1881 following the discovery of silver in the area. The town rapidly grew in size and population, with over 1,200 residents and 500 mines at its peak. During this time, Calico boasted 22 saloons, a bustling Chinatown, and a thriving red-light district, among other amenities.
The Decline and Abandonment
Unfortunately, the town’s prosperity was short-lived. By the late 1890s, the value of silver had plummeted, rendering Calico’s mines economically unviable.
Although borax mining briefly sustained the town in the early 1900s, Calico eventually succumbed to its ghost town fate by 1910.
The Restoration Efforts
In 1950, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, Walter Knott purchased Calico and set about restoring the town to its former glory.
Today, Calico is a San Bernardino County Regional Park, dedicated to preserving the town’s rich history for future generations to explore and appreciate.
Exploring the Town: Attractions and Activities
The Historic Main Street
Upon entering Barstow California Ghost Town, visitors are greeted by the sight of the historic main street, lined with approximately 30 replica wooden and adobe buildings.
Many of these structures have been converted into gift shops, art galleries, and cafes, offering an immersive experience of the Old West.
The Original Structures
While many buildings in Calico have been replaced or restored, several original structures from the mining era still stand. These include Lil’s Saloon, the town office, Lucy Lane’s house (now a museum), Smitty’s Gallery and Store, and the general store.
The Old Schoolhouse
A replica of the town’s original schoolhouse now stands on its original site, offering visitors a glimpse into the educational practices of the time. During the week, classes are reenacted, while a preacher delivers a sermon on Sundays.
The Calico & Odessa Railroad
For a unique perspective on the town, hop aboard the Calico & Odessa Railroad, a narrow gauge steam train that takes visitors on a scenic tour of the area’s old mines.
The Haunting of Barstow California Ghost Town
The Many Ghosts of Calico
As one would expect from a ghost town, Barstow California Ghost Town is home to numerous spectral residents. The spirits of friendly town drunks, billiard players, miners, and even a border collie named Dorsey (who once served as the town’s mail carrier) are said to roam the streets, providing visitors with an eerie and unforgettable experience.
The Schoolhouse Ghosts
The schoolhouse is a hotbed of paranormal activity, with numerous reports of ghostly children, schoolteachers, and shadow people often seen on the building’s roof.
The Lights of Calico
One of the town’s most famous paranormal phenomena is the “Lights of Calico,” mysterious moving lights and energy clouds that traverse the hills and canyons around the town. Visitors frequently spot these lights, adding an element of intrigue and wonder to the ghost town experience.
Entertainment and Events in Barstow California Ghost Town
In addition to its historical attractions and paranormal occurrences, Barstow California Ghost Town offers a variety of entertainment options for visitors, including mock gunfights, gold panning, and theatrical performances.
The town also hosts several special events throughout the year, such as film festivals, Civil War reenactments, and bluegrass music festivals.
Practical Information for Visiting Barstow California Ghost Town
Hours and Admission
Barstow California Ghost Town is open daily, except Christmas Day. Admission fees are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-15, and free for children 5 and under.
Calico Ghost Town is located just east of Barstow, California, easily accessible via the Ghost Town Road exit off of Interstate 15.
Best Time to Visit
While the town can be visited year-round, it’s essential to be prepared for the hot summer temperatures typical of the Mojave Desert. Some attractions may be closed during weekdays, so weekends are generally the best time to visit.
Barstow California Ghost Town offers a fascinating and immersive experience for history enthusiasts, adventurers, and ghost hunters alike.
Whether you’re exploring the historic main street, delving into the paranormal, or simply soaking in the atmosphere of the Old West, a visit to Calico is sure to be a memorable and enchanting journey through time.