March 15, 2013
Calico was a silver and borate mining town, founded in 1881. It reached it's height of silver production during 1883 and 1885, when it had over 500 mines and a population of 1,200 people. By 1890 the estimated population of the town was 3,500, but by 1900 it was nearly a ghost town and by 1907 the town had been totally abandoned.
At one time there were about 500 mines operating in and around Calico, you can see an "entrance" to one here. We saw several entrances close by the campground. Some of these entrances were boarded up, but, a few looked like you could go exploring, if you were brave (or silly) enough to try. Be sure to take TWO flashlights, in case one fails. That was the suggestion of a local resident. MMM, no thanks - - I am not that brave.
There is a mine/museum on the grounds (small entrance fee in addition to the fee charged to access the ghost town). Despite my usual reluctance to go into mines, somehow I decided this one would be ok. It looked dry, fairly well lit and tall enough that we could walk through without getting a cramp in our backs from walking bent over.
Inside there were a number of museum-like displays, about, of course, mining. The mannequins were all different, for some reason I found that quaint and interesting.
Back outside the mine, the old rusty stuff grabs my attention and that of Sony Too. Here, huge tires.
In the window of the pharmacy. I love old bottles. Not sure those cigars are fresh tho -
The local hardware store:
The mercantile, ok, I am not sure about those dresses hanging from the ceiling - -
In 1951 the town was purchased by Walter Knott and his wife Cordelia, founders of Knott's Berry Farm. They restored the town and in 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County. Calico is now a County Regional Park, with the campground and the town and the old cemetery. There are many shops, selling tourist items. There is a nice restaurant (food was pretty good). We spent a few hours there on Friday, before the weekend visitors/campers/tourists arrived so it was fairly quiet. We strolled through, peaking in the windows, chatting with the store merchants, passing the time.
A pleasant way to spend part of the day.