Calico Ghost Town, founded in 1881, is a historic silver mining town where some people struck it rich and others lost everything. Like most western towns, Calico rip-roared with saloons and bordellos, but it was also considered more family-oriented than other boom-towns.
The ghosts of Calico are many and varied, including friendly town drunks, billiard players, miners who still toil, and a whole host of schoolhouse ghosts—children, school teachers, and frequently spotted, generally playful shadow people who are often seen on the schoolhouse roof. Another famous ghost is that of a border collie named Dorsey who acted as the mail carrier.
Calico thrived until the late 1890s when the world value of silver plummeted. Still, Calico continued on thanks to rich deposits of borax in the Calico Mountains. But by 1910, better sources were found and the town began to fall into ruins, though it was never entirely deserted.
In 1950, Calico was purchased and lovingly restored to the glory of its richest era by Walter Knott (who went on to found Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland’s closest southern California rival and home of the biggest month-long Halloween haunt in the state).
Later, Knott donated the town to the County of San Bernardino. Since 1967, it has been a County Regional Park, dedicated to preserving the town’s history. People who experience the Calico Ghost Walk often come up to me after the tour to tell me about their own experiences with the ghosts.
The interesting thing is that a great many of these people (of all ages) tell me of their sightings in detail— the same details that have been reported by other visitors months or even years earlier. They coincide perfectly. One evening after one of our recent ghost walks, a mother and her 14-year-old son told me about their sighting.
While at the school house, a curtain in the front windows was pulled back by a small hand, and a young girl’s face peeked out. This was reported two weeks earlier to me at the same exact window pane while on a private tour. I never told anyone about the sighting. Yet it has since repeated several more times.
Calico Ghost Town is famous for the “Lights of Calico” that traverse across the hills and canyons around the town. It is rare to give a ghost walk where not one soul on the tour spots one of these fantastic moving lights or energy clouds. People have reported these lights even in the campground below town.
Walking through Calico is like stepping back into the heyday of a lively silver mining camp—except the inhabitants who remain make this a true ghost town. By learning the real history of Calico in the 1800s, it is easier for us to understand the ghost sightings that we have had in the past and are still experiencing today.
—Bill Cook Calico Ghost Walk
CALICO Ghost TOWN
10 MILES NORTH OF BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA
Ghost TOWN ROAD EXIT OFF OF INTERSTATE 15
TEL: 1 (760) 254-3340
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