Ghost Town Calico Day 3

For those who may have been confused, a ghost town to us a town that is a ghost of a town. It no longer functions its town-like duties for peopling, manufacturing, or free travel. This is a not a town of ghosts. It also is not a ghost that takes the shape of a town and haunts other functioning towns with its glowing shop-houses and iridescent streetsigns. No, a real ghost town is defined as old buildings now full of souvenirs that you have you pay admission to visit -- and dammit, we wanted to see one.

Calico was one of the largest silver mines in California. These two natives weren't going to spill any more beans.

So much silver was pulled from the mines that the town was rebuilt twice after fires engulfed the buildings. Not only that, but the town also featured one of the first game shows for daytime. This is the original wheel of fortune.

This interesting ridge grew stone in waves. I say interesting because I actually have no use for it.

Some children pray for snacks.

This is the stove that caused the first fire. Never again did Betty Lou burn the desert turkey she cooked.

Sadly, these buildings really weren't meant to last. I think we all expected to see ruins from the 1900s but almost all of the buildings were actually rebuilt according to the original specifications. All of the originals had washed away long ago. Candice is the only original in this picture.

Sweets and sweet hats. Candice had to see more.

The old man was still stuck inside the mine. At least they were kind enough to give him a light.

Candice is a straight shooter, by gum it. She'll shoot you straight and then run over your bleeding corpse to apologize and tear some cloth to slow the hemorrhaging with a tourniquet. She'll then apologize all over as she tries to mend your wound while calling for help. You'll die. She's a straight shooter.

This has to be the lowest form of coin-ops I've seen. Encased is the harrowed frame of a man torn down to the bone, straddling an eternally poised rattlesnake and standing next to his own headstone. Watching someone suffer through this is free. If you want to really watch him suffer then for one quarter the entire frame will rattle in seizures. I'm not kidding.

If only the insufferable coin-op could get some rest after a hammer to break his case and another to do the deed.

There is nothing more misleading to an avid dinosaur fan than pictures of dinosaurs outside of a fossil store. Trilobites don't count. You don't see epic artist renditions of predatory trilobites in battle for survival. You don't see pastoral scenes of trilobites in herds with active volcanoes in the background. Trilobites live up to their name.

Originally, towns were built around food or water or some slimy combination of both. Maybe even mud. There was none of neither in Calico. The food was brought in by train. The water by train. Even the Chinese immigrants for the 40-person Chinatown had to be brought in by train. This really was the oasis on the side of the hill.

Hank's Hotel was more of a tel than a no-tel. For the couple thousand that strangled the hillside in its peak, there was little to do other than spread rumors. Burning down the entire town was only fun for once and an encore.

After a long day of driving and hiking throughout the town, Candice was having a rough time standing up straight. You should've seen what happened when we got her a margarita.

Being a school teacher paid roughly $100 a month for keeping the children well read and yourself well reader. Educators had pretty strict guidelines to teach others or yourself. No drinking. No drugs. No public haircuts. No smoking. Male teachers were only allowed to court once or twice a week. You'd hope they didn't court the students, but that rule was riddled on the interior walls with the rest of the statutes. Eek.

It's mine! All mine!

The rock was so dense that the mine stands today just as it was blown 100 years ago. No wooden supports were necessary. How anyone found silver in the first place near the mine was a geological nut.

Candice was selling magazines.

Go play in the desert kids.

Candice has been increasingly curious to find somewhere to live once her college stay is over. We did have time for one open house for this sexy little rock number nestled in the hill.

This poor cowboy really needed a hug after the scuffle he endured. It scuffed his face and beard and he was too stiff to move.

This is basically what Candice looked like when she was 3.

The fire hall wasn't very effective when it was waiting for the water to be delivered by train.

The happy couple waving from the top of the hill were the new proud owners of a ghost town relic. They had researched timeshares in exotic locations for years and with a down market for ghost town property, it was a perfect time to buy. Calico does somehow house 9 official citizens. The couple still had a hard time understanding that the general store was no longer general enough to supply goods that were good for more than just tourism. Still, they were happy. I wasn't surprised to learn that they also owned some swampland in Florida and a hunk of ice in the Arctic.

I think there are several violations to modern hideout zoning dos and don'ts with this configuration.

Candice on a train. Candice on a train.

With dozens of miles carved into the rocky hillside, navigating the tunnels became quite a problem. I don't think mine people had addresses underground. Regardless of its official name, though, this tunnel was quite popular among the courting youths as the Tunnel of Love. One mine cart ride could yield all of the personal time necessary to foster a budding family in the desert. Of course, you had to bid goodnight before you were dumped at the end.

Native Americans scooped the rocks in the area to color their clay pots.

We actually learned more from the train ride than we did from the signs and tour information. The previous vacant lot housed 80 families. There's still millions of dollars in unprocessed silver packed in silt outside of the mines because it is too expensive to process. We didn't get any information about why the hills were weird.

Greetings from California.

Nice view for a day, but I wouldn't want to work there.

She said to take this picture. Here it is. Horseless firetruck.

The clouds picked up while we left. From the truck we could see rainstorms miles away forming a gray column over the sand. That afternoon we had lunch at a Coco's on Route 66 before driving up to Visalia to see the Sequoia trees the follow day. We had an awkwardly fun game of "what's that smell" throughout the farmland freeway after dusk. We couldn't see what was out there, but hopefully it was more marketable than some of the oddities we imagined.