Schmidt's "Famous Tunnel" now has a group of
"friends" trying to preserve and protect the
the photo to visit their Website.
birth of a new year is also the death of California campfire
permits issued in 2004. Visit your local land management agency (BLM,
NPS, USFS or State Parks) to renew your campfire permit for the
2005 calendar year.
the photo below to read more about Cerro Gordo.
Don't have a 4X and want to
visit historic sites in Eastern California?
Capture the spirit of the past as it comes alive with true tales of pioneer families, prospectors, muleskinners, hero's and gunslingers. Listen to legends of lost gold, found wealth and superstitions.
Journey back in time with Terri Geissinger - Historian, Interpreter and Guide
Click on Terri's yellow van for Terri's
Ghost Town Tours or
contact Terri by clicking here:
is a new publication highlighting the history and legends
California and Nevada.
on the logo to
request subscription information.
M. Cain--Bodie Schoolmarm and Historian
It was a clear, warm, and sunny day in July of 1960 when we met Ella
Cain. Our family had come to visit Bodie, that ghost town we had heard
so much about. Bodie had the reputation, and a well earned one, of being
the wildest gold camp in the West and we had learned that there remained
a great number of buildings still standing, that we were wanting to see.
We were on vacation and staying in a cabin at Mammoth
so we took the shortest route from that direction which took us up the Cottonwood
road off of highway 167, the road to Hawthorne.
This road of course was not paved and very rough, and along the way the
muffler on our Mercury sedan broke loose. This did not make my husband
Bodie schoolhouse as it appears today.
(Photo by Martin Cole)
This was before Bodie had become a state park and you could still drive
into town. Luckily we spotted a long piece of wire lying beside the road
and that looked like a good temporary fix for the muffler, so we parked
very close to the school building, and my husband got to work fastening
up the muffler.
While he was working on that I noticed that the school door was open. I
took our children with me and entered into the schoolroom. Mrs. Cain was
seated at the front behind the teachers desk. She stood and welcomed us
and told the children and I to be seated at the students desks. She was
very friendly and asked if we had ever been to Bodie before, and then
she proceeded to tell us some of Bodies history, and also that she had
been teaching here in the early 1900s. She showed us books and globes
and many other items that had been in that room for many years. There
were flags and maps, lunch boxes, and even paper mache Jack-O-Lanterns
left from some long ago Halloween celebration. She seemed to enjoy the
visit as much as we did but we, reluctantly, had to leave. We spent
another hour or two walking around the town till we realized that it was
time to head back to our cabin. We vowed to come again, and that promise
has been kept since we have visited Bodie almost every year for over
forty years. It seems as though every time we come we learn something
new about that wonderful old town.
large two story wooden building with the belfry on top was not the first
school in Bodie. The first was most likely the one opened in March of
1878 on Main Street that was taught by Belle Moore, the wife of Ben
Butler who owned a saloon also on Main Street. [i] Then there was one
located about two blocks higher up on Green Street, it is said
that a disgruntled student who did not want to go to school set fire to
it. This newer one had originally been the Bon Ton boarding house that
had been run in 1879 by Mrs. C.A. Ratjohn. Some of the early
teachers were a Mr. Cook and a Mr. McCarty. The school was of the
one-room type with students of all ages and grades. Some of the older
ones were even 16 or 17 years old. [ii]
Cain was born in Bodie in 1882 as Ella Margaret Cody,
daughter of Michael Joseph [iii] and Catherine (Shaughnessy} Cody.
She had two sisters, Mary and Katherine, and three brothers,
and Mervyn. Her maternal grandparents, James and Margaret (Dunn)
Shaughnessy were both born in Ireland
and immigrated to Hartford,
They answered the call of the California
gold rush, and went by boat to
where they crossed the Isthmus on mule back, then went by sailing
Catherine, the first of their six children, who would become Ella's
mother, was born in the little mining camp of Howland Flats,
Boys Prank of Painted Piglets
November mornings in Bodie are always bone chilling cold and
hostile. It’s the kind of cold that takes your breath away as it
freezes your cheeks when you step outside. If Miss Nagle had her
choice, she’d be back home in
where November mornings bring chirping birds and new flowers
blooming. She missed the pleasant days of her childhood. For now,
she would have to stay in Bodie until her contract expired. It would
be two years before she could think of leaving. Bodie needed a
teacher and she needed the job. The first time she laid eyes on the
old mining town was in July. She had been accepted to interview for
the teaching job and took the long trip out to meet with the Mono
County School Board. It had been a pleasant experience, the people
were nice and she found Bodie a unique atmosphere. There were so
many young teachers available that jobs were few and far between.
She was elated when the school board had accepted her on the spot.
She looked forward in going back home and telling her family about
her successful trip and returning with her belongings before the
school year was to begin. As she left Bodie that July day, she
admired the hills
surrounding the town. They were carpeted with beautiful green grass
and flowering sage. The deep blue sky accented the small clusters of
quake and aspen trees that shimmered in the sun. The air was
dry, warm and welcoming. That was all a distant memory this morning.
Her thin fingers were numb as she fumbled for the key to the
schoolhouse door. It was expected of her to arrive early and start a
fire in the stove that heated the one room school. As she scrunched
paper into balls and carefully stacked the kindling on top,
her thoughts drifted to the day before. She was hoping that her
students would be settled down after yesterdays shenanigans. Another
prank that disrupted the class. She couldn’t remember how many
there had been this month, too many for certain. Yesterday it took
nearly an hour to settle back into the lesson. The students giggled
and fidgeted until she finally got angry enough to threaten extra
study. She’d had just about enough of these Bodie boys and their
tomfoolery. She picked up the matches that she guarded in her desk
and struck one and confidently lit the paper under the wood.
Snapping and crackling, the fire grew within the belly of the stove,
she closed and latched the steel door. With that chore done, her
thoughts turned to the days lessons.
She walked to the front of the room and started to write on
the chalkboard. She didn’t notice that behind her, a steady stream
of thick black smoke was escaping from the stove. Lost in her
thoughts that seemed to wander from reading and math lessons to warm
comfortable evenings in
to misbehaving little boys. Her sense of smell warned her that all
was not right. As she turned around quickly, the chalk slipped from
her hand and rolled away. The sight took her by surprise and her
instinct was to run. The ugly thick smoke hurled itself into the
room clinging to the fresh air, filling it with the harsh stench of
burning oil and rags. Realizing that this was quite possibly the
result of another prank
from these Bodie hooligans, her jaw set tight with anger as she
quickly stomped to the broom closet where the fire extinguisher was
stored. Dark, smelly smoke continued to roll into the room. In a
rush, she opened the closet door, her eyes didn’t see what she
heard, but knew immediately that her day was about to get worse.
The squeals came from a pair of piglets that had been locked
in the closet overnight, and now with all the excitement, they were
ready to make an escape. As the pair leaped for freedom toward the
open door where a shocked and surprised Miss Nagle stood, the
piglets couldn’t jump clear the bucket of red paint strategically
placed inside the closet
doorway. The first little piggy plunged into the bucket and sent a
wave of red paint onto Miss Nagle’s cream colored dress. With a
blood curdling scream from the horrified teacher, the second piggy
took flight only to land beside the first with his hind feet in the
bucket causing it to tip and spill over her new boots. Freedom at
last, wet, red and slippery, they ran like wild children, squealing
all the way.
We're still in the process of
revising our 2005 schedule.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
for current tour information.
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 our
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 visit our ECOLOGICAL 4-WHEELING ADVENTURES.
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
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
Our tours are
operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S.
Forest Service, 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