Circle The Wagons
Photograph - Photo Art
Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, in Yermo, CA, is one of the most unusual and fascinating visitor attractions in Southern California. The park sits on what once was a boom town that sprang up almost overnight, following a silver strike in 1881. The town’s fortunes rose and fell over the years as the price of silver spiked and dove. The town gasped its last breath in 1929, transforming into a true western ghost town. Guided ‘Ghost Tours’ offer visitors stories about the town’s history, as well as a few about some alleged friendly paranormal activities. But during its heyday, mines in and around Calico—including the famous Silver King Mine—produced more than $100 million in silver ore. The town’s population peaked at 3,500 in 1886. Borax was also mined in the area.
Visitors from around the U.S. and the world now make it a point to stop off in Calico, for either a day trip or an overnight stay in the park’s campground or cabins.
Activities and sights include tours of Maggie’s Mine, the Mystery Shack (a crooked house in which water runs uphill), a narrow-gauge train ride, gold panning, the Lucy Lane Museum, the Bottle House, and adobe and dugout miners’ structures in the hills.
Walter Knott, founder of the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, bought the town from the Zenda Mining Company in 1951, and in 1966, he deeded the property to the San Bernardino County Regional Parks Department, which turned it into a county park. One third of the original town still stands. Other structures have been architecturally preserved to the turn of the century.
Special events take place throughout the year, from festivals and concerts to a Civil War reenactment. Volunteers in period costumes liven up Calico’s streets, and Wild West gunfights are known to break out. Shops and restaurants line the town’s Main Street.
September 29th, 2012
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