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Prospector Bob Travel Guide
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Prospecting for precious history, exploring unique geology, and mining for memories, Pahrump’s own Prospector Bob brings us day hikes and other adventures in our area.
DAY TRIP OF THE MONTH : Calico Ghost Town, California
Calico was built during an 1881 silver strike, the largest silver strike ever found in California. The town boomed until the mines started to play out in 1896. By 1904, it was a ghost town. With its 500 or so mines Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12 year span. Today it's a tourist attraction, but a lot of the original buildings are still standing and the town is well worth a visit.
Walter Knott (owner of Knott's Berry Farm’s) purchased Calico in the 1950's architecturally restoring all but five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880's. Calico received California State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005 it was proclaimed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California's Silver Rush Ghost Town.
CAUTION: Mines in the Calico area are EXTERMELY HAZARDOUS and must not be entered for any reason.
Today the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, several restaurants, the historic narrow gauge Calico & Odessa Railroad, and over a dozen unique gift shops. Calico hosts an event for almost every holiday, including Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They also have a film festival, Civil War reenactments and a bluegrass music festival. For more information Phone them at (800) 86-CALICO or check out their web site.
There is a charge to get into Calico but it’s reasonable; however some attractions charge an extra fee. Kids will enjoy panning for gold, riding the stagecoach, and they love the Mystery Shack a mind-bending spot where optical illusions make water look like it's running uphill. They will also like riding the narrow-gauge mining railroad train that circles the town. How you feel about Calico depends on what you're expecting, and your age. Some adults like Calico for what it is, perhaps more like a mini-theme park built in a historic mining town, but it’s not like the authentic ghost towns of the Eastern Sierras. If you're a ghost town fan who's been around, it's more like Tombstone or Superstition, Arizona than it is like Bodie, California or Rhyolite, Nevada. Many folks complain that it's too commercialized, but as one online reviewer put it, "they have to support it somehow."
The park also offers two unique tours that give you the ability to see and learn more about Calico and the surrounding area firsthand. Check out their “Silver King Mine Tour” and their “20 Mule Team Off-Road Tour”. Want to stay more than a day? Calico Ghost Town offers over 300 campsites from dry camping to full hookups.
To get there from Pahrump just take State Highway 372/178 to Shoshone, California then head South on State Route 127 in Shoshone to Baker, California. Get on Interstate 15 West in Baker and follow it all the way to the Calico Off-ramp, which is 9 miles East of Barstow. This trip is a little less than 3 hours (one way).