A Trip to the Bodie, California Ghostown

The “wild west” gold rush town of Bodie, California is said to be one of the best preserved ghost towns of all times.
W.S. Bodie (W.S. because his first name isn’t really known) discovered gold here in 1859 but the town didn’t really become a “boomtown” until 1875 when a large body of gold ore was found and the population skyrocketed to over 7,000. From 1877-1881 things were really lively here with as many as 65 saloons along the mile long Main Street and about 2,000 buildings in the town but as soon as the gold ran out so did all of the people. The town population dropped 41% by 1890 and Bodie was labeled as a “ghost town” in 1915. By 1942 only 3 people were left.
About $100 million dollars in gold was mined from Bodie, California.
Bodie, California 1890Click to see full view…
Bodie is located about 172 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada and about 468 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada and getting there is not easy but well worth the trip!
To get to Bodie you have to drive 13 miles East on State highway 270 just off of U.S. Highway 395 (between Bridgeport, CA and Mono Lake, CA). *The last 3 miles is a winding, rough, and unpaved dirt road.
The park is technically open all year long but because of its 8379 foot elevation for all practical purposes summertime is the best time to visit. Summer hours are 9am-6pm (April 15th to October 31st).

Entrance to Bodie, CaliforniaClick to see full view… Bodie Intersection of Green and Fuller StreetsClick to see full view…
Plaque at Parking LotClick to see full view… Methodist Church on Fuller StreetClick to see full view…
Inside the Methodist ChurchClick to see full view… David Victor Cain HouseClick to see full view…
Dan McDonald HouseClick to see full view… Charles Donnelly HouseClick to see full view…
James S. Cain HouseClick to see full view… Tom Miller HouseClick to see full view…
Miller FireplaceClick to see full view… Miller BedroomClick to see full view…
Miller BedroomClick to see full view… Miller KitchenClick to see full view…
Miller Living RoomClick to see full view… View Towards Chinatown AreaClick to see full view…
Ore Cars and Standard Stamp MillClick to see full view… Union Street Road To Standard Stamp MillClick to see full view…
Standard Stamp MillClick to see full view… Mine Lift EquipmentClick to see full view…
View Towards Main Street of BodieClick to see full view… Another View Towards Main StreetClick to see full view…
Sam Leon Saloon and BarbershopClick to see full view… Inside of Leon BarbershopClick to see full view…
Inside of Leon SaloonClick to see full view… Bodie FirehouseClick to see full view…
Harvey Boone Store and WarehouseClick to see full view… Inside Boone StoreClick to see full view…
Goods on Shelves Boone StoreClick to see full view… Center of Boone StoreClick to see full view…
More Goods on Boone Store ShelvesClick to see full view… Inside of Boone WarehouseClick to see full view…
1927 Dodge Truck/ Wheaton Building in BackgroundClick to see full view… Wheaton Hollis Hotel SaloonClick to see full view…
DeChambeau Hotel and I.O.O.F BuildingClick to see full view… Inside the DeChambeau HotelClick to see full view…
Gym Inside I.O.O.F. HallClick to see full view… View Down Green Street Towards SchoolhouseClick to see full view…
Inside Eli and Lottie Johl House on Main StreetClick to see full view… Another View of Green Street, BodieClick to see full view…
Leaving Bodie, Mono Lake in DistanceClick to see full view…

Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann

The 1963 World War II epic film “The Great Escape” is one of my personal all time favorites. The movie is loosely based on the non-fiction, first-hand-account book (“The Great Escape”) by Paul Brickhill which describes an Allied prisoners of war (POW) escape from German Stalag Luft III, on March 24, 1944. 76 prisoners managed to escape but sadly 50 were murdered by the Gestapo and only three made it to freedom.

The United Artists “The Great Escape” film has an all star cast and in one of the escape scenes Flt. Lt. Robert Hendley “Scrounger”, (James Garner) and Flt. Lt. Colin Blythe “Forger”, (Donald Pleasence) manage to steal a small trainer type airplane from a German airfield in order to fly out of Germany to freedom. I’ve always wondered what kind of airplane it was and if they really existed in WWII? The answer….Yes, they did!

The Bucker Bü 181 Bestmannn was a two seat single engine airplane built by Bücker Flugzeugbau GmbH in Rangsdorf, Germany. The prototype Bü 181 (D-ERBV) made its maiden flight in February 1939 with Chief Pilot Arthur Benitz at the controls. The aircraft was designed to be the standard primary trainer for the Luftwaffe and production began in 1940 and the airplane served the Luftwaffe until 1945. The Bucker Bü 181 was also used for courier & liaison missions and later some airplanes were converted to be “tank busters” carrying four Panzerfaust anti-tank grenade launchers from wing-mounted launchers, and some aircraft were used in night time harassment missions carrying three 50 kg bombs.
Several other aircraft manufacturers produced the Bü 181 during and after the war and they were used by other militaries into the early 60′s. Of the many original Bü 181′s built only a few are left today.

picture by "bomberpilot" author julian herzog
Specifications Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann

• Manufacturer: Bücker Flugzeugbau GmbH
• Crew: 1
• Capacity: 2
• Length: 25 ft. 8 in. (7.85 m)
• Height: 6 ft. 8 in. (2.05 m)
• Wingspan: 34 ft. 8 in. (10.6 m)
• Empty weight: 1058 lb. (480 kg)
• Loaded weight: 1653 lb. (750 kg)
• Powerplant: 1 × Hirth HM 500A or B 4-cyl. inverted air-cooled in-line piston engine, 78 kW (105 hp)
• Variants: 18
• Number built: 3400
• First Flight: 1939

Performance

• Cruise speed: 121 mph.; (105 kts)
• Maximum speed: 134 mph.; (116 kts)
• Serviced Ceiling: 16,405 feet; (5000 m)
• Range: 497 miles; (432 nm)

If you have never seen the movie, “The Great Escape” you need to check it out. Get it here: The Great Escape movie
The book “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill is available too: The Great Escape Paperback – by Paul Brickhill