Bodie, California sits 75 miles (121 kilometers) southeast of Lake Tahoe near the California-Nevada border. This gold-mining town, which boomed in the late 1800s, once had 10,000 residents. Bodie was a rough-and-tumble place that supposedly had 65 saloons as well as numerous brothels, opium dens and gambling halls. Fights and shootings were common. The gold in the nearby Bodie Hills eventually became too expensive to extract, so the residents left [source: Bodie].
Today Bodie is a state historic park. Although two major fires devastated many of its structures long ago, about 100 are still standing. The state has elected to keep them in a state of arrested decay, meaning the interiors were left intact and the exteriors supported for safety reasons. You can't go inside the structures, although you can look through windows. Some of the buildings you'll see are a Methodist church (one of only two churches in the town), a barber shop, homes and the Boone Store and Warehouse, which is filled with hundreds of artifacts, such as original Edison lightbulbs and Trojan condoms.
Over at the schoolhouse, it looks as though the students just up and left. Dusty books still top the wooden desks, maps are pulled down for study and the teacher's desk is topped with a yard stick, a hat and a pen. A highlight for visitors is taking a tour of the town's old stamp mill, one of the best-preserved in California. Stamp mills extracted gold from quartz, then turned it into bullion bars [sources: California Department of Parks & Recreation, Bodie].