By Ann Zeise
Evelyn died at the age of three when she stuck her head out of the window of her home to watch the man using a pickax to dig a drainage ditch around her home. Rest in peace, Evelyn. One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: “Goodbye God. I’m going to Bodie.” The phrase came to be known throughout the west.
The bell for the old fire house still remains, but quiet now. By 1879, Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000 and was second to none for wickedness, bad men and “The worst climate out of doors.” Only 5% of the town remains from its heyday as a “sea of sin” in 1881. Much of the town has succumbed to fire and decay. On June 23, 1932, a small boy playing with matches started a fire. There was plenty of water available and the fire could have been stopped, but the screens at the reservoirs had not been replaced after cleaning, and the pipes were clogged with rocks and mud.
Andrew checks out the sawmill, which was once a busy place for cutting firewood. Winters were harsh, with snows as much as twenty feet deep, winds to a hundred miles an hour and temperatures down to 30 or even 40 degrees below zero. The winter of 1878/79 was especially severe, and Bodie residents, many of them new arrivals, were not adequately prepared. Many died of exposure, disease, or violence.