Friday, January 29, 2016
Founded in 1881, Calico became known for the silver being extracted form the Silver King Mine but as is the case in most mining towns, Calico was abandoned after silver prices dropped and was no longer profitable. The mining of Borax in the same area helped to extend Calico's life longer than it should have but by 1907 the town was shuttered and many of the buildings were moved to nearby towns of Barstow, Daggett and Yermo.
Walter Knott (from Knott's Berry Farm fame) purchased Calico in 1951 and restored the town's building to their original form by referencing old photographs. He held on to the town until 1966 when he donated it to San Bernardino after which the town became a County Regional Park.
In town you can purchase a bag of dirt and pick up a gold pan and pan for your own treasures. The bags are "salted" so everyone walks away a winner and it gives you an idea of how it was done back in the day. Only not here because they were silver miners but who cares, really?
Of course there are snack places, souvenir shops, and historical mock ups to keep you interested for longer than you thought possible (I think we were there for over two hours.) There is a mine tour available but we didn't have time for that so I'll have to stop by again someday. There is one more thing that I'll have to check out the next time I visit and that is their ghost tour. Call me crazy all you want but I get a kick out of those things. Whether you're a believer or not doesn't really matter because most of the time what you're paying for is a guided, historical tour through town and that alone can be worth kicking in a few bucks.
On this visit we also found out that this area is home to the Calico OHV Area. Through some research that I've done since getting home I've learned that there are miles of roads waiting to be explored with dry camping available. Trails can take a couple of hours or all day if you're in the mood. This looks like a place I may have to explore in the winter very soon.