COMPLETE SUCCESS OF THE CELEBRATION
GRAND PROCESSION IN OUR STREETS
THE LITERARY EXERCISES AT THE HALL
A MATCH GAME OF BASEBALL
FUNNY FEATURES OF THE FESTIVE CREW
THE WAR DANCE OF THE PIUTE INDIANS
THE DAY CLOSED WITH THE MINERS’
From June 1 to August 7, 1878, the stock of the Bodie Mine
began a rapid ascend from $1 to $18 per share in a gold ore frenzy.
The camp which shared the mine’s name was feverish with excitement,
as nearly overnight, hundreds of citizens found themselves wealthy.
With the Fourth of July occurring in the midst of the excitement,
the birth of a mining boomtown was cause for elaborate celebration.
Although there were no trees in Bodie, and wood was one of
the most precious commodities, saplings were cut in neighboring
mountains and placed along Main Street. Buildings were decked with
red white and blue bunting and flags adorned rooftops. The sound of
a thirteen gun salute greeted the day as the sun rose over the Bodie
If this was not enough to arouse the sleeping Bodieites,
surely the sound of the town youth setting off firecrackers and
torpedoes did. By mid-morning, sidewalks, porches and windows were
crowded with people dressed in their Sunday finest in anticipation
of the first parade in honor of their country’s birthday.
In keeping with the congenial spirit of the proverbial
mining camp, the Bodie Weekly Standard of July 3, 1878 had
prepared everyone for the parade route:
drop of a hat the lines will form and waltz into
position, forming into a solid hollow circle,
skipping five abreast in single file from the North
Pole to Brigham Young’s Dormitory, halting five
seconds for refreshments, thence returning to J. N.
Summers and Co.’s Slaughter House, thence in
diagonal oblique line to Bodie Bluff where they will
vanish into thin air to the music of the tinkling of
millions of beer glasses.”
The officers of the Day were presented as the Bullwhackers
of the Century. The usual jab at Useless Grant was mentioned, and
the Bodie Band was noted as the Boston Cast Iron Band.
The actual procession formed at promptly 10:30 a.m. near
the Miners’ Union Hall and began the march down Main Street., with
the Carson City Brass Band leading the way. Grand Marshal S. W.
Blasdel carried a baton of authority as he as he sat astride a coal
black horse; his staff following on equally splendid horses.
Mexican War and Civil War veterans followed. Thirty-eight
young girls in frilly dresses, represented the states. Miss Rosa McAlpin was dressed as the Goddess of Liberty. Officers of the Day,
President, Orator , Poet and Reader followed in horse drawn
Holmdrup dressed in patriotic wardrobe, July 4, 1899 in
courtesy Holmdrup family archive)
One hundred fifty miners, wearing blue silk badges with an
image of a miner with pick and shovel and reading “Bodie Miner’s
Union" marched, followed by the members of the Bodie Masonic and Odd
The Bodie Mutts and Red Cloud baseball teams, dressed
proudly in new uniforms, marched down the streets, creating
excitement for the game later that day. Junta Patrioitica Mexica de
Bodie came after the baseball clubs, on horses, proudly wearing silk
sashes displaying colors of their native country.
Following the parade of Bodie bands, dignitaries, patriots,
baseballs teams, and grand orders were the young men of the B.S.S.
on their fine horses, with their new silk badges displaying their
Loose, author of Bodie Bonanza, makes no mention of what
order B.S.S. represents)
Captain John, Chief of the Paiutes, was interviewed well in
advance of the grand day, and a genuine old fashioned war dance was
arranged. The chief promised four or five hundred “heap Indians”
would gather on the hills above town in painted faces, complete with
war whoops which were known to put fear and trembling in many an old
Bodie prospector in more primitive days. Before this early example
of Piute living history, Captain John and his band of war
re-enactors, were treated to “Heap Hog Die” at the community
The crowd must have roared with excitement during the first
organized Bodie baseball game. The Bodie Mutts beat the Red Cloud,
20-5. Equally entertaining, were the Bodie Horribles, who took great
pleasure in mocking and making fun of anyone and everyone as they
paraded around town at various events throughout the day, with great
proclamation and oration, dressed as clowns.
Bodie's "horribles" may have looked something like these
modern day reenactors as they pranced through the
No celebration, Fourth of July, or any other on the Bodie
calendar, would be complete without a mass exodus to the local
drinking establishments. At least 27 saloons dotted the high desert
landscape of the flourishing town. Toasts were made to the roaring
mining camp, and glasses rose to the gold that was being continually
pulled out of the hills. Blue Blazers, Whisky Straight, and
Tarantula Juice quenched the thirsts of the patriotic celebrants.
Fifty miners from the Bodie Mine were among those in the
streets and saloons of Bodie on July 4, 1878. Although sworn to
secrecy by their bosses, the passing of gold-laced quartz from hand
to hand in small groups throughout town was not left unnoticed,
arousing curiosity and questions. Men patted backs, and shared
secrets. Excitement built among the citizens who held Bodie Mine
In a day of firsts for the boomtown, as the dark of night
set upon the landscape, Professor Porter’s string band could be
heard playing for Bodie’s premiere Grand Ball in the Miners’ Union
Hall. Afterwards, tired, but happy residents of Bodie headed for
It was grand to live in the United States of America and
celebrate its birthday, but it was even grander to celebrate with
visions of Bodie gold and wealth to come.
Throughout the years, Bodie would continue to celebrate our
nation’s holiday in fine style, through boom and bust. Even as the
old camp faded to a mere shadow of it’s former self, and a few
hearty pioneer families held on to their dreams, Bodieite Lauretta
Gray talked of the early 1900’s and her childhood celebrations.
“We had a big float and us kids rode on the float. We’d go
from Bodie to Bridgeport and all around. Dressed elegantly, best we
could in those days. Then we had a baseball game. We had footraces.
And I skinned them all!. They had (miners’ contests) and they had
potato races and sack races and of course fireworks.”
Bodie staff and volunteers continue the 4th of July
tradition by participating in the Bridgeport parade.
In modern times, as the struggling remnants of Bodie stand
in arrested decay as a California State Park, tourists from all over
the world wander into town, for the most part unaware of the Fourth
of July’s of yesteryear.
Members of the Bodie Foundation and park staff that can be
spared on the busy holiday, and volunteers head into the nearby town of Bridgeport
to represent the ghost town in the parade and street fair.
To see Bodie come to life as it was in it’s heyday,
visitors can enjoy old fashioned fun and events, complete with
period costume, horses, wagons, and old automobiles at the annual
Friends of Bodie Day, the second Saturday of every August.
Bodie 1859 – 1900
by Frank S. Wedertz
Sierra Media Inc., 2003
Bodie Bonanza, The True Story of
a Flamboyant Past
by Warren loose
Exposition Press, 1971
by Marguerite Sprague
University of Nevada Press, 2003
The Story of Bodie
by Ella Cain
Fearon Publishers, 1956
Holmdrup family archive