Southern California offers any number of great attractions that we’ve all heard of and probably visited one time or another. But more than likely Calico, California isn’t on that list.
Calico is an honest to goodness ghost town near Yermo, CA that’s just a couple of hours east of Los Angeles. But if you go; you’d better be on your best behavior because folks have sharp eyes in this dusty mining town, and justice is swift.
The face of Calico hasn’t changed much in the many years that have passed by. Some say you can still catch a glimpse of old cowboys at work here and maybe even a gunfight or two. But Calico’s been deserted now for over 137 years. No doubt, there’s a couple of old souls kicking around here.
In its heyday, the town of Calico boasted 22 saloons, a red-light district, its own China Town, and a population of over 1,200. It was built at the site of the richest silver mine strikes in California history, but hauling silver out of the desert became too expensive, and the once vibrant town of Calico, slowly faded away.
But as the tumbleweeds roll, so do the wheels of cars, bikes and RV’s. Calico’s latest incarnation is as a popular day trip destination that’s run by the San Bernardino County Regional Parks Department.
A County spokesperson gave us the lowdown: “You park right at the base of town, it’s wide open. If you’re lucky you’ll visit on one of the days that a Greeter is working. He welcomes you and helps you park your car, motorcycle or RV making it very easy and accessible for you. Then you just jump out and come walking up into the little bit of the Old West.”
Be sure to watch out for that Greeter though. When Fun Roads visited Calico; Dave was the Greeter and he was in full costume as a gunfighter. He nearly gave our TV crew a heart attack because he likes to belt out his lines with gusto:
“Welcome to Calico! Y’all come up here to have fun, but now you found the gunfighters. Now, Y’all come up here if you can because if you can’t, don’t bother coming up because we are going to shoot you no matter where you’re at.”
But there’s one thing about Calico that’s too eerie to be faked. It’s all the ghostly encounters that seem to be all too common here.
Over the years people have claimed that they’ve spoken with someone that wasn’t there; others swear that some type of an entity has sat down on their bed at night and even shuffled through their bedroom when they were trying to sleep. Nothing horrifying but it does make you think… maybe ghosts do exist in Calico.
So, to satisfy that curiosity, Calico Attractions offers three unique Calico Ghost Tour experiences that only run after hours on Saturday nights…. in the dark!
Christina Raggio of Calico Attractions explains: “The first Ghost Tour is the original walk up Main Street where you’ll enjoy learning about the town from the 1880s to today. Not only do you hear the stories of sightings and haunting, but you may walk away with a ghost experience or two to talk about. The second is The Maggie Mine tour which takes you through the Maggie Mine. With the lights turned down low, you’ll experience the mine like no one has since the days the Mulcahy Brothers mined it in 1881. The mine has its own hauntings and plenty of stories to be told. The newest addition is our School House tour. Where not only do you hear the ghost stories about all the children, but you get to go inside the schoolhouse at night and receive a whole new education.”
Ghost Tours rotate and have separate fees that are in addition to the park admission; so be sure to visit Calico Attractions’ website for current info on times and costs.
If you’re brave and want to experience the stories for yourself. Calico is open all year long, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The park entrance fee is $8 for adults and only $5 for the kids.
There’s plenty of parking and if you’re looking to spend the night; try out the Calico Ghost Town Campground. It has 265 sites with full and partial hookups plus an eclectic selection of cabins and bunkhouses. Reservations are recommended.
Calico is easy to get to. It’s a few minutes north of Barstow, California on Interstate 15. Just keep an eye out for the Calico Ghost Town Road Exit which you can’t miss because it’s also the same exit for world-famous Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner.
Calico Ghost Town
6600 Ghost Town Road
Yermo, CA 92398