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What It’s Like to Live in a California Ghost Town

To be an off-season caretaker of Bodie, California (winter population: 5), you need a high tolerance for cold, solitude, and two-hour grocery runs.
Bodie, California.
Bodie, California.Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress

Ranger Taylor Jackson points his shovel to a speck in the blanket of white that covers the ghost town of Bodie, California.

The 100 wooden structures in the middle of nowhere that make up this long-dead community seem pristine. The cloudless March sunlight blasts from above and bounces off the snow’s surface, giving the buildings the angular, distorted shadows of a Surrealist painting. It looks like a mushroom trip is supposed to feel.