Typical Halloween festivities don’t lend themselves well to the RV lifestyle. However, in the Southern California ghost town of Calico, RVers can easily join in the fun. What better place for an RVer to partake in Halloween than a ghost town with ghosts and an RV park?
Every year the last two weekends in October, Calico Ghost Town pulls out all the stops to create a hauntingly entertaining weekend for the whole family. During this time, the buildings and landscape are adorned with cobwebs, ghostly bed sheets and fake spiders.
Calico was founded in 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. Located on the side of towering King Mountain, the town was named for the diversity of colors in the mountain, which an early miner called “as purty as a gal’s calico skirt.”
The boom years were 1881 to 1896. At its peak, Calico had a population close to 1,200 and more than 500 active silver mines. In addition to the usual assortment of brothels, bars, gambling dens and a few churches, Calico also supported a newspaper named the Calico Print. In the mid-1890s, the price of silver dropped and Calico’s silver mines were no longer profitable. The miners moved away and the town slowly died.
In 1951, Walter Knott, originator of Knott’s Berry Farm, bought the town and began restoring it to its original condition, using old photographs for reference. The last original inhabitant of Calico, Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane, died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the town’s museum. Five of the original town buildings still exist, and many others were rebuilt as replicas on the original foundations. In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and it became a county regional park. Today the historic mining town lives on as one of the few original old-west mining camps.
This year, the town’s Ghost Haunt will be held on two weekends, October 22-24 and 29-31.There will be costume contests for children, adults, and even dogs, pumpkin-carving contests, family movies, a variety show and other events, including trick-or-treating on the town’s main street.
Last year’s events included “The Last Ride,” where you climbed into a real coffin and had the experience of being taken down, down, down as if buried alive. A trip to Maggie’s Mine brought an encounter with ghosts, skeletons and miners delirious with silver fever. Flashes of lights, thunder and coffins appeared in the various nooks and crannies of the mine. You could just hope you could make it out alive without contracting silver fever yourself!
In the RV park, people decorated their campsites and RVs in a Halloween contest, with the winners decided by ballot.
For a hauntingly good time, bring your RV, the whole family and even your dog.
Dave Helgeson and his wife promote RV and manufactured home shows in western Washington. They spend their free time traveling and enjoying the RV lifestyle.