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The Journey . . .
Calico Ghost Town

by Maricia Mlynek


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The terrain changes in California as quickly as the gas prices and speed limits. We have gone from ocean to mountains to desert in mere miles. The geography is odd. The land is flat, but then quickly juts up--like large crocodile scales. Picture an ant in a sand box that has rocks thrown in it and that is what the Mojave feels like. I am nothing, but a small ant in God’s enormous sandbox.


As we crossed Death Valley (a name that is fitting), we came to the Calico ghost town. In 1880, Calico was a silver mining town. The town prospered for 16 years. With the drop of silver value from $1.29 to 53 cents per ounce, Calico soon became deserted in the desert. Records show that $85,000,000 worth of silver came from the mines. Calico was once the home of 3,500 people, but today it is as empty as its mines.



We made our way up the dusty path to Calico. Shockingly, we were greeted by the sound of gunfire. Believe it or not, a Civil War reenactment was going on right in downtown Calico. The rebels took the victory and, later, Lincoln got up to give the Gettysburg Address. It was strange seeing the Johnny Rebs and the Yankees marching in the Mojave Desert, but good to know our nation’s history is remembered and celebrated beyond where the battles raged.






Calico was a town worth our visit. We rambled through it like an old miner searching for riches. The treasure we found was not silver or gold, but the “Vision” of “what used to be” in the town called Calico.


When the vagabonds long to rove afar

And ride the lonely way,

Out where the desert mountains are

And the trail winds away.

They skirt Dry Lake with its swirling dust

And cross the mountain trails,

With sage and greasewood on the desert crust,

And winds that sigh and wail;

Where the mountain sides are weathered and stained

Like the hues of a great rainbow,

When the goals they yearn for is almost gained

That’s right--It’s Calico . . .

                                                                  --Dell Nile          


(Maricia Mlynek is the new Chronicle reporter. She and her husband Andrew are new residents of Calhoun County. She has taught middle school math and science for most of her career. He is retired from the U.S. Army and has a degree in historical restoration and preservation.

After visiting the Calhoun area on several occasions, they fell in love with its charm and people. Moving was not a challenge for this military family. Their last home was on the shores of Oahu, Hawaii. After traveling a great distance, they have found a home in West Virginia. They were both born and raised in Ohio, but the Mountain State is where they have chosen to reside.)

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