News: Calico: Barstow's best kept secret
Story by Lance Cpl. Norman Eckles
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - When Marines and sailors with Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow are dismissed for liberty, some are unaware of the treasures, adventures and history that lie between the High Desert Mountains making them a novel and unexpected treat.
Calico, now known as Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, was a thriving mining town in 1881, due primarily to the largest silver strike in California. Since then, the town has become a historical park where people can experience firsthand how miners and cowboys lived in the rugged West.
"If you like learning about the past, then this is the place to be," said Larry King, a tour guide for the Mystery Shack, an attraction in Calico.
The Mystery Shack defies the laws of gravity, with water that runs uphill, and straw brooms that stand with no support.
While walking through the historic town, spectators have the opportunity to interact with employees, some who dress in attire and take on personas from the Old West.
“People tend to underestimate what Calico has to offer," said Regina Oxley, who has been a shop owner in Calico for 43 years. “Calico is a great place for children and adults alike.”
Visitors can explore Maggie's mine, which leads explorers down an authentic mine, 1,000 feet into the mountain, and shows the mining conditions of the 1890s.
The Lane House Museum provides an excellent opportunity for history buffs to examine artifacts and devices engineered for miners who worked 10-hour days in 100 degree weather and housewives, who prepared supper, cleaned the laundry and completed other chores.
Potential passengers can board a train named Railroad Odessa, and experience firsthand how miners brought silver into the town for currency used in buying goods.
Calico was the main resource of silver in the late 1800s, said King. “This town generated 10 million dollars during the silver boom."
Along with its history and attractions, visitors can shop in the same buildings that were used more than a hundred years ago. Buildings such as Lane's General Store, the Park Office, Zenda's Mining Company and Lil's Saloon, have withstood the test of time and weather.
“This place is relaxing for people,” said Sandi Brown, a seamstress at the Calico quilt shop. “I think it is because of the environment and the hospitality of the employees. We treat everyone here with respect.”
The environment is indeed welcoming to visitors. With the throwback feel of being in the Old West, Calico is a slow-paced town that gives visitors time to enjoy every inch of the intimate climate.
During the day, the town thrives and is awash in visitors bustling about, explained Charlotte Landon, a cashier at the Rock Shop in Calico.
However, the fun doesn't end when the sun goes down. The town offers ghost tours every Saturday night of Maggie's Mine and on Main Street.
The town received the name "Calico Ghost Town" because of all the ghosts that have been seen throughout the years. As legend has it, the ghost of Lucy Lane still lurks between The Lane House Museum and Lane’s General Store, her residence and place of business.
For Mother’s Day, the small town will host a festival, May 11 and 12, including music, arts and crafts and "cowboy poetry." So grab your friends and family, and check out the attractions, activities, and stores Calico has to offer. For more information on Calico Ghost Town and upcoming events, visit: calicotown.com.