On any day of the year, Calico Ghost Town, in Yermo, California (just outside of Barstow on Interstate 15) is, well, a ghost town. On Halloween, all the skeletons come out of the closet and dance in the streets. Residents and vendors alike enthusiastically decorate with creepy cloth, dusty curtains, skulls and other scary stuff, in anticipation of two wild weekends of “Calico Ghost Haunt“. Apparently, campers at the adjacent campground also decorate, and the Ghost Haunt is supposed to include all kinds of family style Halloween activities, including the recently revived Ghost Tours. We were unable to make it, as we were there the weekend before.
In the 15 or so years since I last visited Calico, the town has added museums and attractions that weren’t previously available. Apparently being named California’s Official Silver Rush Ghost Town has been good for Calico and for San Bernardino County Regional Parks, which operates it.
The Maggie Mine tour is a kick. For $2 adults and $1.50 children over 5, we got to walk through one of the few stabilized mines anywhere. Every room has a mining scene, depicting the daily operation of a silver mine.
Just below the Maggie, Chinatown lies in ruins. One tiny stone hut is fitted with a cot, fireplace, and table to show the cramped quarters. Nearby lies a ruin that must have been a multi-family dwelling. We spent several minutes going in and out of all the rooms.
Another fun stop is the old schoolhouse, with desks
neatly lined up and slates at the ready. That little building out back (can’t see it in the picture) is the outhouse. My son was appalled when I told him about the wooden seat and the newspaper TP.
Other restored and/or rebuilt buildings include a blacksmith shop, firehouse, restaurant/hotel, saloon, post office/general store, newspaper office and several others. Many of these house gift shops, including one with lots of brain teasers, and a couple real leather shops.
Outside the sheriff’s office stands a jail cell and hangin’ tree.
Though there are several gift and souvenir shops, my
favorite has to be the old time general store. Complete with “unmentionables” hanging from the rafters, displays of bulk goods and old fashioned candies for sale. We got a couple of stick candies, and the licorice flavored one tasted more like real licorice than most of what passes for that particular candy on today’s market. With many items of antique clothing and other household goods on display, the general store is part museum, part convenience store, with propane, canned goods and other camping supplies, and part souvenir shop.