August 2009 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Sky high gas prices along with sluggish economic conditions have severely impacted our tour business for over a year.

We have reluctantly decided to suspend our tour operations for the time being.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who continue to support us.

LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our  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.

A Bodie Sesquitennial


Sat. Aug. 8 2009



Live Music

Watermelon & Pie Eating Contests

Living History

Costume Rental


Old Tyme Photos



Members Only Events

Albert's BBQ Dinner

After Hours Entertainment


for information

Phone 760-647-6445


or click on the poster above for email.


Mules can taste the difference--so can you



The Panamint Breeze is a newsletter for people who love the rough and rugged deserts and mountains of California and beyond.

Published by Ruth and Emmett Harder, it is for people who are interested in the history of mining in the western states; and the people who had the fortitude to withstand the harsh elements.

It contains stories of the past and the present; stories of mining towns and the colorful residents who lived in them; and of present day adventurers.

Subscriptions are $20 per year (published quarterly – March, June, September & December) Subscriptions outside the USA are $25 per year. All previous issues are available. Gift certificates are available also.

To subscribe mail check (made payable to Real Adventure Publishing) along with name, address, phone number & e-mail address to:  Real Adventure Publishing, 18201 Muriel Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92407.

For more information about the Panamint Breeze e-mail Ruth at:


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



Click on the bag to find out how.


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 for information on her tours with the Mono Lake Committee.


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

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505

Hey Brother,

Can 'Ya

Spare a Job?

The nation's economic downturn has severely affected the newspaper industry. My job of nearly 30 years was eliminated several months ago.

I'm actively looking for full or part time job opportunities within my diverse skill set.

If you have, or know of any openings, please contact me through this CONTACT  link.




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.



W. S. Bodey Revisited

by Cecile Page Vargo

Ten years after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada Mountains, ore strikes on the eastern slopes of the same great mountain range began sparking interest. Thousands of prospectors, still with dreams of getting rich, migrated to Nevada's Comstock Lode.

 A small number of men wound up in the Mono Lake region to try their hand at placer mining. A few miles to the north of Mono Lake, at the headwaters of the East Walker River, Dogtown was born. By mid 1859 a party of four Argonauts took off from the newly sprouted community of Monoville into the unexplored hills north of the large salt lake.

 These four men, Pat Garraty, William Boyle, Terrence Brodigan, and W.S. Bodey, ventured across the California state line into what was then Utah Territory. Indian trouble forced the four back to Monoville but did not prevent them from digging prospect holes and finding promise along the way.  Brodigan, Garraty and Boyle held out until winter arrived, with hopes of returning in the spring when the snows melted.  Only Bodey would return, this time with a half Cherokee known as Black Taylor.

 In October, 1859, Judge Keever of Monoville saw Bodey and his new partner, Taylor, come in with rich sacks of dirt. The excitement sent others rushing to the Silver Hill area 13 miles deep into the mountains where Bodey and Taylor had staked their claim. Brodigan, from the first party, had already lead one group back to Sonora, and was now on his way with another. This group ran into Bodey and Taylor traversing in the opposite direction on foot with single pack animal and provisions from Monoville.

Detail from Thompson & West 1876 topographic map of California and Nevada showing location of Monoville (Mono V.).         

                                                          Map courtesy David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

 The bitter Eastern Sierra winter was threatening as the two groups passed each other. Bodey and Taylor continued to Silver Hill where their mine was, but the blizzard was taking over. The pass to Sonora was reported closed with snow. Even those that chose alternate routes out of Bloody Canyon, Walker’s Pass and Placerville barely made it through.

 The Comstock communities of Gold Hill and Virginia City, only a mile apart from each other, were cut off by snow more than six feet deep. Cattle, horses, donkeys and various other animals were dying from cold and hunger. Winters were harsh in this area and this winter was particularly noted for being one of the worst.

 W. S. Bodey and Black Taylor continued on, struggling through howling wind and heavy snow fall. Bodey  eventually succumbed to the storm, and sunk in the snow. Taylor, still fighting against the storm, tried to carry Bodey all the way.

Somewhere in or near Cottonwood Canyon, Taylor could no longer carry his partner. Bodey was wrapped in a blanket and abandoned while Taylor continued the trek to their primitive cabin by himself. There he rested up and set out again when he was fully refreshed. The blizzard continued to rage as Taylor searched for Bodey to no avail.

View of Bodie (center) from atop Queen Bee Hill. Perhaps W. S. Bodey gazed from the same location.

 The severe winter forced Taylor and other prospectors out of Silver Hill until spring time when mining could resume. In late May, Taylor began his search for W. S. Bodey.  Johnson King, who helped with the burial, described the physical remains as being stripped off by coyotes, bones scattered, and minus an arm.  A grave was dug three and one half feet deep, running northeast and southwest in length, with the feet of Bodey pointing toward the bluff which would be named after him.

 History argues over the man who first discovered color in the Bodie Hills. We may never know whether his first name was Wakeman, Waterman, William, or some other variation beginning with the letter W. The spelling of his last name was changed to Bodie, as opposed to Bodey, for reasons which aren’t entirely known either.

 A claim notice was found “folded up and stuck in the fork of a bush” with the name W. S. Bodey. In 1860 when a ranch located between Aurora and what is now the town site of Bodie, ordered up a sign, the spelling came back Bodie Ranch and people adopted that spelling. Some say the ‘ie” was adapted to avoid confusion in how the name was pronounced.  

 Even poor W. S.’s burial site was lost for some years, only to be rediscovered in 1871, and forgotten all over again until October 26, 1879 when Judge J. G. McClinton and Joseph Wasson exhumed the skeleton.  The body was left on display for the good citizens of the town baring his name to mull over for awhile. Elaborate services took places, complete with oration. A monument was ordered and forgotten; later to be erected in memory of assassinated President James Garfield.

The most prestigious grave marker in Bodie's cemetery was supposed to be for old W. S. Bodey, but was, instead, dedicated to U.S. president James Garfield who died in 1881 after only four months in office. Bodey's body lies somewhere beneath the sagebrush in an unmarked grave.

 The mysteries of W. S. Bodey, who he was, where he came from, and what happened to his body and the monument that was made for him, are just a small part of the story of the diggings near Silver Hill that turned into a thriving isolated metropolis of sorts, with an arguable population of anywhere from 5000 – 10,000 citizens.

 This year, 2009, marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the town.  The ore that was pulled out, the men who mined it, the women who followed them and more will be depicted throughout the decades on August 8. The cast of characters from Bodie’s history will live once again and you can meet them in person as they walk down the dusty streets of the nearly abandoned town. Friends of Bodie members will be treated to a private bbq and special events as the day comes to a close.

 It is unknown at this writing what will become of Bodie State Historic Park in the grand scheme of the state of California and its current budget cuts. If you can’t attend The Friends of Bodie day, the park will remain open at least through Labor Day. Plan a visit, sign petitions, write letters, join the Friends of Bodie, donate time or money, and spread the word about this unique remnant of California history.






Friends of Bodie Entry Wins

Best Adult Costume

in Bridgeport 2009 Parade

by Roger Vargo


Bodie's usually dormant blue Dodge Graham truck comes to life during Bridgeport's Independence Day parade to serve as transport for the Friends of Bodie entry "Where is the State Line". The entry celebrates a survey discrepancy in the original state line between California and Nevada.  According to the original survey, Aurora was located in California and became the first county seat of Mono County, Calif.   After the error was discovered, the county seat was eventually moved to its present location in Bridgeport. The entry won first place in the Adult Costume category.                                                 


Rod Duff pilots Bodie's Dodge Graham truck through the streets of Bridgeport during the 2009 Independence Day parade.


Bodie staff and volunteers portray proponents on both sides of the California-Nevada state line during Bridgeport's 2009 Independence Day parade. The entry won first place in the Adult Costume category. Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by