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Discover the Wild West with two local authors in Kings Beach

Special to the Sun
Miners in the boom time at Bodie, Calif. circa 1880 — photographer unknown.
Courtesy Cain Collection, Bodie State Historic Park |

“Goodbye God, we’re goin’ to Bodie!”

So said a San Jose tot the night before her family moved to notorious gold town Bodie.

Called “the Wickedest Sin Town of the West” by a late 1800s preacher, Bodie is the topic of local author Marguerite Sprague’s talk at “Evening by the Creek” at the Kings Beach Library Saturday, Aug. 9, starting at 6 p.m.

Sprague went back to original sources and interviewed living Bodieites for her book, “Bodie’s Gold: Tall Tales and True History from a California Mining Town,” published by University of Nevada Press. “Bodie’s Gold” describes the social history of California’s Official Gold Rush Ghost Town, from the pre-contact Kuzedika Indian days through the gold town boom time and the town’s survival into the 20th century, supported by a few small but steady mines.

What remained of the town became a state park in 1964. Sprague, program coordinator for the Tahoe Public Art Program with North Tahoe Arts, interviewed several Bodieites who grew up in small-town Bodie, including her own uncle who spent boyhood summers in Bodie with his gold miner uncle.

During her research, Sprague debunked a few popular myths about Bodie and uncovered several obscure facts as well. Some truly bizarre incidents and people who had never been documented — like the peculiar Dr. Blackwood, who one night began digging a mine in the center of Bodie’s busiest intersection — appear in her book.

Said Sprague, “Bodie looms larger than life in our minds and hearts today because when you’re there, you step out of your ordinary life, to a place that is part history and part fantasy. The Wild West of movies may not have really existed, but Bodie is one place where it comes close!”

Author Mary Jo Sonntag, author of “Write, If You Live to Get There,” will also share stories about her book (visit http://www.tahoedailytribune.com, keyword Sonntag, for more information).

You are invited to take a picnic, bug repellent and warm clothing as the event is outside near the creek. The event runs 6-7:30 p.m. The authors’ books will be available for purchase. Lemonade and cookies will be provided at the Kings Beach Library, 301 Secline St., Kings Beach. Call 530-546-2021 for more information.


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