Calico ghost town in California remains a lively attraction

A veteran of the boom-and-bust cycles common to western mining towns, Calico ghost town thrives today as a popular San Bernardino County regional park near Barstow, Calif.

Open year-round, this attraction in the middle of the Mojave Desert is best visited during the cooler months. The old silver mining queen draws some of its biggest crowds during special events planned for upcoming winter and spring holiday weekends. For event details, check sbcountyparks.com.

Calico is accessible within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, making a day trip possible if you get an early start. Follow Interstate 15 south about 150 miles toward Barstow. A few miles north of Barstow near Yermo, turn off the freeway onto Ghost Town Road. This loop access route takes visitors three miles to parking for the ghost town situated in the colorful Calico Hills. Expect to pay an $8 entrance fee unless you plan to stay in the park overnight or longer. Fees paid for use of the park’s 265 tent and RV camping sites, bunkhouses and cabins include the entrance fee. Reserve camping sites through the county park website.

Calico’s surviving original and restored buildings lie among some low hills along its main street. Most of the buildings are occupied, housing shops, eateries, a saloon, a school, museum displays and other attractions. Shops manned by costumed shopkeepers feature gifts, souvenirs, snacks, collectibles and a variety of hand-crafted items.

Popular stops include the quirky Mystery Shack and the Lane House Museum. Visitors can try their skill at panning for gold, explore part of an actual mine, visit an old jail and take a ride on a scenic railway. They also can arrange to join a guided tour of nearby canyons with old mines and ruins of a borax mining town.

The park is popular with off-road enthusiasts, motorcyclists, mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Some park roads are open to off-roading, but the park is also a staging area adjacent to an extensive network of off-road routes and trails administered by the Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management. Only marked routes are open to off-road use. For details, check with the Barstow BLM office.

Calico was born in 1881 after silver discoveries rapidly drew attention to the multicolored hills and canyons that contained many valuable minerals. The discoveries turned out to be one of the West’s richest silver strikes, generating at least $20 million during a span of about 15 good years. The district around Calico contained some 500 mines. In her heyday, Calico was home to about 3,500 residents. The ore began to play out in the 1890s and the price of silver dropped drastically in 1896. The mines began to close and the population moved on to more promising places. Calico’s post office closed in 1898. The town stood abandoned by the time nearby borax mines ceased producing in 1907.

As was common in mining areas, many of Calico’s buildings were moved to other nearby towns for continued use. Scavengers and vandals were attracted to the old town, but further damage was averted by a few old-timers, including a former sheriff who happened to be the uncle of Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. Knott had worked in the Calico area and took an interest in preserving the old boomtown.

In 1951, Knott purchased Calico and began a five-year restoration effort. A few original buildings still stood, mostly adobe structures. Others were purchased and returned to Calico. Many were re-created using early photos of the town. In 1966, Knott deeded the 430-acre site to San Bernardino County for use as a regional park. He ensured that Calico would live on.

Today, thousands of people learn about the Old West while having a fun time in the former mining town. Fittingly, Calico is a numbered California historical landmark and is considered California’s official State Silver Mining Town.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
World Holidays Exhibit At The Natural History Museum
Migratory Bird Day teaches adults and kids to celebrate birds
Different organizations offered activities for kids and adults to learn about birds and celebrate their migration journey at Sunset Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like