1998 World Monuments Watch
Bodie is the largest and most complete unrestored ghost town remaining in the American West. The gold mining settlement was established 8,200 feet above sea level in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1882 Bodie's population of 12,000 people made it one of the largest and roughest gold rush towns. The 495-acre site has 114 buildings with thousands of artifacts, horse-drawn vehicles, machinery, and domestic accessories. The Bodie Archives, salvaged from the site and secured off-premises, documents in exhaustive detail the inhospitable living and working conditions in the town's early days. Wind-driven dust, sand, rain, and snow continually attack the mostly board-and-batten-pine buildings. Ghosts and memories are all that linger. Preservation of this evocative place depends on acquiring 500 acres of land currently in private hands; this would reduce the threat of destructive mining exploration. The buildings' restoration and creation of a visitor center would follow.
Since the Watch
Shortly after the announcement of the 1998 Watch the primary issue was resolved when the California Department of Parks and Recreation acquired 520 acres of private land surrounding the historic town, an area that had been slated for development. The town has been preserved in a state of "arrested decay." Budget cuts in 2009 threatened to close the park, but since then it has remained open. January 2011