August 2008 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts











Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Click on the 4Runner or contact us at for tour information.


LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our tour logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.


We support


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.

Friends of Bodie Day

August 10, 2008

Celebrate Bodie's history in costume. Click on the poster for more information or phone (760) 647-6564

Mules can taste the difference--so can you




It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.

The #1 Source for Desert News Now Has A Forum.  Come Chat!

Visit Michael Piatt's site,, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo to visit her site.


Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505



Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway.

     Click your mouse through the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them. If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your vehicle, please contact us at:

     Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn. The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16 years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the Owens Valley.

     Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size restrictions.

     Our tours are operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, and other authorities.

     We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old cabin or deserted mountain lookout.

     California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the "Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore historic California.

Roger, Cecile and Marty

Every Bodie Loves a Parade
by Cecile Page Vargo

The doldrums of day to day, life in the thriving town of Bodie could be quickly cured with an old fashioned parade, food and game booths, athletic events, music, dance, and more.  On August 10, 2008, The Friends of Bodie will present a vintage celebration in the same tradition of those days of yore, proving once again that Every Bodie loves a parade! The old buildings are delicate, and modern rules prevent the big bang-ups, but it's a good bet, a good time will still be had by all who attend.  For information on this year's celebration, visit

In the meantime, let's step back in time and take a look at one such celebration from the annals of one of our favorite ghost towns' history books:

Precisely at midnight, July 4, 1880, the shrill sounds of thirty steam whistles echoed in the hills surrounding the booming mining town of Bodie, California. The residents that woke to the startling sound probably smiled to themselves, for this time, it did not signal a disaster in the mines, but announced that Independence Day had arrived. Four and a half hours later, the sounds of "Hail Columbia," "The Star Spangled Banner," "Red White and Blue" and "America" could be heard from the observatory of the Belevedere Iron Works, thanks to the Hoskins Brass Band. As the sun rose over the west side of the Bodie Hills, the cannon at the Standard Mine was shot off, waking the few Bodieites that had managed to sneak a few more z's after the steam whistles blew in the 104th birthday of the United States.

Bodie was decked out in red white and blue for the holiday, which would be celebrated more appropriately on a Monday than the Lord's day of Sunday. Old Glory waved with the nearly always present wind, and the rest of the day remained silent.  The sound of a gunshot or two was heard that evening, as a drunken Irish gunslinger by the name of Paddy Carrol finally succeeded in terminating his forty years of life on earth. The skirmish was incited by legislation that would rescind the resolution opposing a parade of members of the Miner's Union in the upcoming celebration. Paddy had his own ideas on how to stop the resolution, which ultimately caused his demise. Those who knew the Irish man showed no regret over the incident.

Young ladies dressed in their finery ride a horse drawn wagon during a parade.

An hour before dawn, on July 5, "the thunder of the Standard M & M Company's artillery banished sleep".  The streets of Bodie were alive with patriotic displays. Main Street was decked with evergreens, flags, and traditional red white and blue bunting. Two brass bands played the musical odes to the country, followed by four snow white horses pulling the Standard Mine's five pound cannon down the crowded board walked street. The Babcock Engine I, Pioneer Hook & Ladder I, Champion Hose I and Neptune Hose II represented the four Bodie fire companies, complete with brightly bedecked new uniformed firemen. The Booker Mine, not to be out done, also appeared with it's own miniature brass mounted cannon drawn by ten uniformed boys under direction of Master Charlie Irwin who was mounted on a fine pony. Captain Messick, the grand marshal, his mounted aides, and 214 Miners' Union members serving as honor guard, were given a thunderous ovation.

Amongst the events of the day, a track meet drew a huge crowd. Duncan A. Mc Millan was the prize Bodie athlete, shining with his 15 pound hammer throw toss of 92 feet and two inches. H. Bell followed second with his toss of 92 feet, 2 inches. Duncan's success continued in three other events, including a tie with Lee De Camp in the standing high jump at 4 feet 5 1/2 inches. The  40 foot, 8 inch hop, step and jump was placed by Dennis Keeve. The hitch and kick was placed by Rod MGinnis, at 9 feet, 2 inches.

As usual for such events in Bodie the festive crew known as The Horribles, paraded and orated around town mocking all that went before them. Typically their antics ended at the Miners Union Hall with great literary exercises including a "a Horrible Poem" a Declination of Intentions and an oration such as the one we now quote from Bodie Bonanza by Warren Loose originally recorded in the Daily Bodie Standard July 9, 1880 as spoken by Horribles orator C. Staley.

A group of "Horribles" poses in Bodie.

Fellow rounders, cheek gorillas, amateur actors, hoodlums, knights of the poppy, and superintendent of the finest and best free lunch routes in Bodie.

We, today represented the highest phase of triple X and double distilled cussedness to be found on the coast. When I see your opium-belched, boozy-inflamed mugs gathered around this rostrum, I feel that I was perfectly right in demanding in advance the $500.00 Mr. Pope (chairman of the program committee) offered me to deliver this oration.In this camp our mines are most ably managed on the coast. Our superintendents know more today about sour mash, Santo Pedro, poker, back streets, and scrub horse racing than any other class of men in the country. They are broad in their views, painstakingly conservative, and hold on to a four bit piece like a burdock burr in a bull's tail. They are men of great understanding, wearing number 5 hats, and number 10 boots.

Think, four daily papers in a town of 7,000 inhabitants. Pause for a moment and regard the mental caliber of their editors and compositors.Turn your attention, I pray you, to our saloonkeepers, all men of means.self supporting, making all their own liquors, except gin. It takes too long to make - fifteen minutes.The various ranch men who come here have been known to take four straight drinks, and then go out and steal their own horses, saddles, and blankets and hide them in the sagebrush.

One poor creature accompanied by two riding and pack animals in passing through Bodie on his way to Mexico unfortunately stopped at the Senate Saloon. He hoisted in half a dozen drinks, fill a gallon jug and continued his journey. He said to the Bishop Creek Vigilance Committee, who were anxious to know how he came into possession of 300 head of horses between this place and Independence, and that it was Bodie whiskey, and he was afraid it would choke him. He didn't lie about it either.

When I look around on your rum-sodden countenances, soulless opium eyes, like two gobs of putty in a pan of starch, I solemnly promise and speak it with tears in my eyes, that I will never do it again. Oh! My beloved, continue in the paths you have marked out, don't miss a trick. See if you can't ruin some other saloon and drive the proprietor into bankruptcy. Be as tricky as you can' remember, the world owes you a living.

Amongst the events of the day, a Cornish style wrestling tournament was held at the Bodie Hay Yard, with the Hoskins Brass Band in attendance as James Snell , Jake Palkingham, and Con Driscol took in first, second, and third prize. News stories also reported a plethora of practical jokers, public drunkenness, and  at least one shoot-em ups. The evening fireworks were described by the Bodie Chronicle: "It must have been made of sawdust or badly damaged powder.There was scarcely enough force in the powder to carry the Roman Cannonballs above a man's hat." At least the modern Bodie traveler need not worry about fire restrictions keeping him from seeing such a sad display.



To read more about Bodie, it's histories, and its celebrations: 


Bodie Bonanza

by Warren Loose

Exposition Press - New York


Bodie's Gold - Tall Tales & True History From a Mining Town

by Marguerite Sprague

University of Nevada Press


Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well

by Michael H. Piatt

North Bay Books


The Ghost Town of Bodie, A California State Park

by Chalfant Press


The Story of Bodie

by Ella M Cain

Fearon Publishers


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