California - 2006 

Updated: 11/30/08

Calico Ghost Town . . .

The three cousins . . .

On the road . . .


Calico Ghost Town . . .


w a cal mine calico 213.JPG (47228 bytes)We made the 200 mile trip to California a two-day event. Mary Lou's cousins were expecting us on Saturday so we stopped by the Calico Ghost Town Friday afternoon. We did not know their campsites had been filled three months in advance for their Halloween Weekend special event. The ranger told us the local campgrounds would also be full. She suggested we camp on the dry lake bed visible in our mirror.

You can see the dry lake bed in the distance. But, more on that later. 




w a cal mine pumpkin 018.JPG (52846 bytes)Calico Ghost Town is a California Historical Landmark. Their Halloween weekend special event is only one of several special event weekends presented by this county park.







w a cal mine t depot 120.JPG (67774 bytes)The first thing we did was take the train around Calico. That's what we thought. On the train the conductor pointed out some of the historic locations where parts of the town used to be. The tracks actually looped around some of the hills but not the ghost town we saw when we entered, that is a walking tour. The ticket price of $2.75 per person was just for a fun ride.

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Our walk around Calico was interesting. The county has done a good job developing the town. Some of the buildings are built into the hillsides. The original mine is partially open. However, we were to early in the evening to go inside. It was being turned into a "haunted mine" for the weekend.


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w a cal mine chinatown 131.JPG (71099 bytes)These walls are in what was called the Chinatown part of Calico's history. The Chinese lived in their own community. They worked in Calico mostly as cooks and waiters in the restaurants & boarding houses was well as doing laundry services for miners.







Wood was used for many of the buildings later in the town's history. Of course, many of the wood buildings are reproductions and used to demonstrate the activities of the era.


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s a cal mine lanes 279.JPG (42346 bytes)However, this building is one of the original buildings believed to date from 1887. The building was restored for use by Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm fame) when he began rebuilding this site as a tourist attraction. Do to limited water availability, he decided not to develop this area as fully as he did the famous Knott's Berry Farm. He turned it over to the county.






This is the bottle house. It was built in the 1950's by workers for Walter Knott when the Knott family owned Calico between 1951-1966. It is not know if there really was a bottle house built here during the mining days. A large number of bottles would have been available, since people did not have all of the paper and plastic containers so familiar to us today. 


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Among current-day bottle house architects, a star design is most effective having six points, since a five point star cannot clearly be achieved with the staggered row bottle pattern.


A lot of the town showed the spirit of the weekend. As the time for trick or treating at the buildings in the town approached, the street was getting very busy. The pumpkin carving was held early in the afternoon so everyone was free to trick or treat.

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The admission the Calico Ghost Town was $7 per person. Camping in the large campground would have been extra.  As mentioned earlier, the train ride was $2.75 per person. There is a separate change to tour the mine. Allow about two hours to visit Calico. Walking in many areas of Calico is difficult - inclines and uneven footing. There is food, snack and craft items for sale in the various buildings.


w a cal mine dry lake 224.JPG (30980 bytes)This photograph shows the dry lake bed a little better. In addition, you can see the HHII, the parking lot and one of the campgrounds.

We found a road onto the dry lake bed and picked a spot to park. It was not a good choice. After a guy drove by on his four-wheeler and we saw the wind was carrying the dust our direction, we moved.




From the dry lake bed Calico looked quite a distance away until Fred zoomed in.


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The little white specks in the center photograph are RVs on the other side of the lake. There were probably about ten RVs in the dry lake bed with us clustered in groups of three or four and alone. Except for us, all of them had toys of some description to enjoy of the lake. As we drove on the highway we had been noticing a larger number of toy hauler RVs than we see in Michigan. Camping and using motorized toys in the desert areas is very popular in this region. It is a very dusty activity.  


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w a ca dry lak017.JPG (25262 bytes)We picked our second camping spot upwind and away from what appeared to be the play routes. It was a much better location.

After the toys were put to bed for the night, it was a very quiet place. 





We enjoyed our evening and night in the Calico area. It was another experience to put in the books. There was no fee for camping on the dry lake bed.


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The three cousins . . .


We enjoyed the hospitality of Mary Lou's cousin Nancy on Saturday and Sunday. Another cousin, Linda, lives very close so was able to be there for our two day visit also. While the cousins reminisced and caught up on family matters, Dick (Nancy's husband) and Fred chatted about various subjects. One of Nancy and Dick's sons and his family was able to join us for lunch on Sunday.


Unlike Michigan in late October, a lot of time was spent outside around the pool.

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We had a nice visit.



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On the road . . .



We stopped in Barstow to get a haircut before seeing the relatives. Barstow's McDonalds had a train theme. We didn't eat there but used it as a photo opportunity.


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Leaving California we came upon several huge fields of wind driven generators. There were thousands of them - off in the distance as far as you could see. The field was at a mountain pass located adjacent to the desert, where the warm air rising sucks the cooler air past the wind driven generators.


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t a ca rd fin rad water 138.JPG (34364 bytes)Along the desert part of the road signs advised you that radiator water was available and there were several 'call stations' along a 12 mile stretch. A road sign told you to turn off your air-conditioner to avoid engine overheating on this stretch of the road.





Along the road . . .


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Our visit to California was short by design. We will plan to return for a more thorough tour at a later date. 



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