July 20, 2019

Life in a California Ghost Town

“Ranger Taylor Jackson points his shovel to a speck in the blanket of white that covers the ghost town of Bodie, California.

The 100 wooden structures in the middle of nowhere that make up this long-dead community seem pristine. The cloudless March sunlight blasts from above and bounces off the snow’s surface, giving the buildings the angular, distorted shadows of a Surrealist painting. It looks like a mushroom trip is supposed to feel.

And yet Jackson is ignoring all of that—he’s used to it by now. All he cares right about at this moment is that tiny, distant object peeking from the snow. He begins to trudge to it.

As we get closer, I can see that it’s the top of a small roof, the base of its structure buried beneath nearly five feet of snow. Jackson bends over, shovels out a small hole, crawls onto his knees, and peers inside. Hidden behind the white crystals that had formed during the night’s snowstorm are two mercury temperature gauges. One had the previous day’s high: 29. The other had its low: -5.”

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