Friday, February 17, 2012

Calico Ghost Mining Town

Before touring this town we stopped at Peggy Sue's Diner for lunch. It is a restored 1950s restaurant. In the 1980s Peggy and Champ Gabler bought the diner and decorated it with movie memorabilia which Peggy had saved from her acting career in Hollywood. She had roles in 75 movies. A jukebox decorates the entrance to the diner. We were glad we stopped as it is a most interesting place- and the food is good!
The rest of our afternoon was spent in the ghost town of Calico. This town sits in the Calico Mountains, so  named because of the great variety of colors in its soil- like a patch of calico. The colorful rugged mountains are similar to the rock formations which we had seen two days ago at Rainbow Basin. They are part of the same mountain chain.
It was fun hiking around the hills above the town where the mines use to be. We also were able to walk through several tunnels of the Maggie Mine. Calico Mining District was the site of what was once the greatest producer of silver in California. Over fifty mines were in production from 1882-1896, at the peak of the "boom years". During that time 13 to 20 million dollars of the precious ore were recovered. The town of Calico was born in 1881 and became populated with 1,200 people. When the price of silver fell the town of Calico became a ghost of its former self. One of the mine's owners, Mrs. Lane, did live in the town until her death in 1967. Below is a picture of her adobe general store which was built in the early 1880s.
Upon Mrs. Lanes death the house was restored for use by Walter Knott, founder of Knott's Berry Farm. He had bought the town and worked on its restoration in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 he donated Calico to San Bernardino County and it was opened for public use in 2001. It is a fascinating town to explore, many  pioneer artifacts are displayed in some of the restored buildings. There are also shops and eating places.

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