The Bodie Curse

Bodie is a testament to the wild rush of the West. Located in California and discovered by W.S. Body in 1859. The spelling of the gold rush boomtown was later changed to Bodie is order to avoid mispronunciations. The gold ore mined in Bodie would eventually account for over 30 million dollars in gold alone. However, tragedy began as early as the town founder. W.S. Bodie would never fully enjoy his discovery as he frozen to death during his first winter in Bodie while returning with supplies.

Once a bustling gold town, its boom was fantastically short-lived. By the early 1880s, mining had significantly diminished and homes and businesses were abandoned in favor of other towns. In 1892, more disaster struck as a fire raged through the town and burned many homes and businesses. With a slight boom thanks to factories opening up nearby, Bodie continued limping on until 1932. According to the Bodie State Park website, “2½ year-old "Bodie Bill" was blamed for starting the 1932 fire which destroyed all but 5-10 percent of the town.”

Today, the town is a State l park open to visitors and remains in a state of arrested decay. However, the ghost-town of Bodie holds more than just ruined buildings and the whispers of an age long gone. It is said that Bodie is also cursed.

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Bodie is an interesting ghost town for many reasons, including its state of arrested decay. The people in Bodie didn’t just pack up and leave...they fled. When you visit, you can still see homes full of furniture with sinks full of dishes. Pictures hang on the walls, items stock the businesses’ shelves, and the dilapidated homes serve as unique windows into the past.

Hesitant to change, the spirits that now seem to inhabit Bodie have made one thing clear: don’t take from us. Similar to Robert the Doll, who allegedly curses any who take his picture without asking for, whatever is in Bodie promises to curse any visitors who steal souvenirs from the houses, businesses, or even the surrounding nature.

While many people laugh off this curse as a way to keep the ghost town well preserved or others just think it is an old wives tale, the museum and staff of Bodie have letters and artifacts come in every day from those who broke the rules and left Bodie with more than what they came with.

Catherine Jones, the park interpreter, says “Pretty much every time the ranger goes to the post office to pick up our mail,” says Jones, “there's a cursed artifact in there.” The team has now received so many of these letters over the years that they’re now collected, on display, in the Bodie museum.

One of them ominous letters, received in 2002, reads:

"Fair warning for anyone that thinks this is just folklore -- my life has never seen such turmoil. Please take my warning and do not remove even a speck of dust."

One of my favorite curse tales is from the early 2000s. While visiting Bodie, two teenage girls picked rocks from the area (not inside the houses or businesses) and decided to create necklaces with them.

At first, they encountered some bad luck that neither of them attributed to the curse. I mean, hey, who doesn’t have a spot of bad luck now and then? But, as time went on, things began getting worse and worse. They wore the necklaces often but after a few weeks the skin the rocks touched would turn rashy and red. Then one of the girls sprained her ankle while wearing the necklace. The bad luck continued to get worse and when an earthquake hit the town, both girls decided to return their necklaces to Bodie...just in case.




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