Old West

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.




This image was taken by King of Hearts.This image is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

$2 Photo Now Worth $5 Million


At Astonishing Legends we have more than a passing fascination with the old west. In fact, our story folder is filled with potential future shows on some of our favorite topics, not the least of which is the enigmatic Billy the Kid. We're not convinced Pat Garrett killed him, but that's for a future episode. In the meanwhile, I was quite literally slack-jawed when Forrest forwarded me this story. There is ONE picture of the Billy the Kid out there in the world. Even the most unaware person knows that photo. See below.

Original Billy the Kid Tintype (we've reversed it because it was originally developed backwards)

Well now there are two. This 2nd one was bought at a yard sale for $2 and has been authenticated by experts. Not only is it amazing for being the 2nd picture of him, he is also photographed with the famous Lincoln County Regulators who fought in the Lincoln County War. (Yes the one that inspired Young Guns)

The next most amazing thing about this photo is they are playing croquet! Maybe that's not so amazing, but it's certainly not how we picture our favorite outlaws of the wild west is it?


Link to Original Article with photos. It's not every day you can plop down two bucks and walk away with some "junk" that is worth a fortune. But that's what happened when a collector purchased an old-timey photo from a Fresno, Calif., antiques shop.

It turns out, the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid is in the photo, apparently taking part in a leisurely game of croquet.

The image could be worth up to $5 million.

Kagin's Inc., a numismatics firm, announced it had authenticated the photo earlier this month. The 4-inch-by-5-inch tintype shows Billy the Kid in the summer of 1878. It may have been taken at a wedding, and he is alongside several members of his gang, The Regulators, according to the firm. In a statement, Kagin's senior numismatist, David McCarthy, said it took more than a year of careful inspection before the firm would confirm the photo's authenticity.

"When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical — an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana. ... "We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken. Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this — a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to insure that nothing was out of place. "After more than a year of methodical study including my own inspection of the site, there is now overwhelming evidence of the image's authenticity."

The only other known photo of the outlaw was taken in 1880 in Fort Sumner, N.M. That photo, a 2-inch-by-3-inch tintype, pulled in $2.3 million in 2010, according to Kagin's.

Billy the Kid, whose real name may have been Henry McCarty (he also used the alias William H. Bonney), has remained part of American frontier folklore for generations. He was a famous thief and gunfighter who was captured and sentenced to death but escaped prison after killing two guards.

Legend has it that he killed 21 men, one for each year of his life. However, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department, the number was actually nine: four that he was solely responsible for, including the two guards, and five he helped dispatch.

Billy the Kid was eventually tracked down and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner in 1881.

For more, see a video on this story here.