Ponderin' the Past...in Calico!

Today, as I was browsing through the bookshelf in my room that held all my historical fiction book, I came upon the two Love Finds You books that I have. Picking up my favorite of the two, I knew what I would be "Pondering" for today's post - Love Finds You in Calico, California! :-)

Love Finds You in Calico, California

In Southern California you will find, amid the Mojave Desert sands, Calico Ghost Town. It reached it's 'boom' shortly after it was founded and at it's height, Calico had a population of 1,200 people with over 500 silver mines surrounding it. Within the town, besides the usual varieties of bars, brothels, gambling halls and a few Church's, Calico could also boast of a newspaper - the Calico Print.

In the mid 1890s the price of silver dropped dramatically and Calico's silver mines were no longer economically viable. And to add another misfortune for the town, the end of borax mining in the region (in 1907) caused the town to be completely abandoned. The last original inhabitant of Calico was a Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane - who died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the main museum in the town.

For a while, the town remained abandoned - a real ghost town. But then in 1951, Walter Knott, founder of Knott's Berry Farm, bought the town and began restoring it to its original condition referencing old photographs from its boom. Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others are are recreated as replicas of their originals - on the preexisting foundations.

In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County - and that's when Calico became a county regional park. Today the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, a restaurant, general merchandise stores, War Between the State reenactments, and an annual Heritage Fest. (Sounds like a fun place to visit!) In 2005, Calico was designated the "official state silver rush ghost town" of California.

~ Katy
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Photo credit: Lori Warman