Nestled in the Calico Mountain’s of Yermo, California is the ghost town of Calico, located just 10 miles North of Barstow, California. Once popular for its Silver production, it has grown even more popular in recent years for its ghost town atmosphere and October ghost walk. This get rich quick town was officially established on March 26, 1881, and word over the $86 million dollar silver strike spread like wild fire and soon hundreds of hopeful miners arrived and settled in, eventually raising the population to 1,200. The silver mining stayed strong until the late 1890’s when the world value of silver fell to pennies on the dollar. Fortunately for the town of Calico, rich deposits of borax were also discovered in the Calico Mountains in the early 1890’s, and with this new $45 million dollar discovery, mining still continued up until around 1910.
Once the town became vacant, Calico sat quietly barren from 1910 up until 1951 when it was purchased by Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm. He was easily able to envision the town as it once was, and set out to restore Calico to its original glory of the 1800’s. He later donated the town to the County of San Bernardino which actively preserves and maintains the remnants left behind from days gone by.
Today, about a third of the adobe and wood buildings straddling the wooden sidewalks on the 480-acre parcel lot are originals. The rest of the buildings like the blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and the essay office, are all reproductions. Curiosity about the town’s history draws in ghost town fanatics from everywhere. The ghost walk allows for the past to come alive and its colorful setting and natural surroundings make it ideal for passing the time away while enjoying a slow paced tour that highlights the best features of the town, then and now.
As you walk through the town you are automatically drawn to the window displays that are showcased in various buildings throughout Calico Ghost Town. There is also a wedding chapel that still celebrates western weddings, a schoolhouse, a bath & barber shop, and quite a few mercantiles and eateries. The most visited location in the town is located at the Town Hall building. The infamous “Character Hall of Fame” lists the colorful people who made of the town of Calico, and have not been forgotten. It would appear that Calico has come back to life and is operating at full steam as many different types of events are featured periodically through certain months of the year.
February in Calico
A piece of American History traditionally takes place in the historic silver mining town of Calico Ghost Town every Presidents Day weekend. This crowd pleaser shows a glimpse of the north assaulting Calico which is being defended by the south. It is a town occupied under martial law, and the sight of canon fortifications, hospital encampments, Robert E. Lee’s makeshift headquarters and military drills make you feel as though you have really drifted back in a proverbial time capsule. As you continue on your tour of the town you will likely come across Abraham Lincoln performing the Gettysburg Address while down the street a bit, General Grant and his troops arrive on train and by foot.
May in Calico
The Spring Festival, held during Mother’s day weekend features bluegrass music, live entertainment, chuck wagon cooking demonstrations, a BBQ under the stars, and free flowers for all mothers.
October in Calico
The Calico Ghost Walk is a 90 minute after dark tour through the towns haunted ruins, and it has been carefully designed for guests of all ages. The tour is conducted during the last week of October, and includes a costume contest, pumpkin carving, and a walk through China Town and a tour of the Terror Silver Train. Tour guides give an in depth history of life in Calico during the 1800’s, and they walk you past the haunted dwellings and share stories about the ghosts that have refused to leave their home. Sightings of friendly ghosts have been a regular occurrence since the late 1800’s according to recorded documents, and word of mouth from the locals and quite a few unsuspecting visitors.
November in Calico
The Heritage Festival is held during Thanksgiving weekend and performances are non-stop, including an official visit from Santa himself. Everything from Native American dancing and the Medicine Man show to gunfights and street dancing take place during this eventful weekend. It is largely popular due to the many accommodations found at the ghost town. Restaurants, shops, camping, and wonderful scenery are all available year round.
December in Calico
Christmas in Calico has also become a popular event as the desire to see the holidays without all of the hype of commercialism gives the feeling of a time when life was simpler. The town is appropriately dressed for the occasion, and the seasons highlight is when the huge Calico Christmas tree comes to life with colorful lights on December 10th. One of a kind holiday gifts can be purchased at the local Calico gift shop that is ran by locals dressed in their western Yuletide garb.
265 camping sites with 46 full hookups
58 partial hookups
3 dump stations
3 group camping areas
Tent and off-road vehicle camping