Calico Ghost Town
Silver Mining Was King ...
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Now a ghost town, Calico was once bustling with prospectors back in 1881, and silver was king in the Calico
Mining district. Over 500 mines were eventually located in the area and created great wealth between 1881 and
A bonanza of silver was first discovered here when in 1881 four prospectors were leaving Grapevine Station for
a mountain peak to the northeast that they described as "calico-colored." The prospectors discovered silver in
the mountain and established the Silver King Mine. The mine turned out to be a very rich strike and was the
largest silver producer in California during the mid-1880's.
Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12-year span, however, by 1896 the price of silver had
substantially decreased and was sitting at about $0.57 per troy ounce, which was less than half its price a few
|Glory Hole looking southeast
|Historical Marker of
Lucy Bell Lane
|Mining Activity on Calico's Hillside
| years earlier. At these prices it was no longer
economically feasible to continue mining for silver.
Most of the original wealth did indeed come from
silver mining, but a discovery of the borate
mineral colemanite also helped the area grow.
However, by 1907 with silver prices low, and the
end of borax mining in the region, the town was
The story doesn't end there, though.
Calico Ghost Town is alive and well, and is
located at I-15 at Ghost Town Road, just minutes
north of Barstow, California. Thanks to Walter
Knott, founder of Knott's Berry Farm, it was
restored to much of its original glory, and in 1966
it was donated to San Bernardino County.
Today, it is operated as a County Regional Park
and offers a wide variety of attractions. There are
over two dozen restored buildings and shops,
plus a museum and restaurant. Visit the Maggie
Mine to get a feel for what mining conditions were
like back in the day or try your hand at gold
panning. If you want to take a scenic ride to
check out Calico, then the Calico/Odessa
Railroad will give you a nice tour.
Above and to the right are some pictures of
Calico that we took when visiting in the Summer
of 2008. These shots should give you a pretty
good idea of what the area looks like and some
of the neat sights to see. Enjoy!