Bodie-Benton Railroad Office, CA 2019

PROJECT PARTNER: Bodie Foundation

SESSION DATES: June 2-7  |  June 9-14  |  June 16-21  |  June 23-28

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE TIMES:  Plan to arrive between 5pm and 7pm on the first day of your project session, and depart after lunch on the last day. Work will generally start around 8am each day, and we’ll wrap up around 4pm.

PROJECT DIFFICULTY:    
Ocassionally, tasks will be heavy enough to be considered “red.” Sessions 1 & 2 feature heavy masonry work close to the ground; and Sessions 3 & 4 will include both masonry and structural timber repairs, working underneath the building. 

SITE INFORMATION:         Site is RV/trailer accessible  Tent camping only     

LOCATION: Bodie State Historic Park is located just an hour from Yosemite in the Mono Basin. Camping permitted at Milk Ranch, a short commute to the jobsite. Tents and small RVs/trailers are permitted. This is a higher-altitude project, so remember to protect your skin and stay hydrated!

  • Here is a Google map of Bodie State Historical Park.
  • Here is a map to Milk Ranch, our camping location. Note the small size of the site, and resulting restriction on small RVs/trailers only.

GOOD TO KNOW: No prior experience is required. HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, and equipment for volunteers on this project. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from the lodging site. If a project requires a commute, we will plan to carpool to and from the jobsite. More general information is at the bottom of this page. 

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. The majority of project costs are covered by our project partners and grants, but as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Project Site Description & History

A ghost town preserved in a state of “arrested decay” just outside of Yosemite National Park – how can you say no?  This project offers incredible opportunities for photographers and history buffs alike.


From www.parks.ca.gov: “Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of ‘arrested decay.’ Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods.

Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of ‘arrested decay.’ Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.” Bodie has been named by the Californian legislature as the official state gold rush town. You can read a detailed brochure about the town’s (occasionally salacious) history here. You can also find beautiful historic photographs of Bodie, like the one above of the Railroad Office, on the Library of Congress’ website.

The Bodie & Benton Railway, the office of which we will continue to work on, was a three-foot narrow gauge railroad California, from the Mono Mills to its terminus in Bodie. What makes this railroad unusual is that it was isolated and unconnected to any other railroad system. Its purpose was solely to link gold-mining Bodie to Mono Mills, a sawmill, 32 miles south along the east shore of Mono Lake. It was made operational by 1881. Visitors can still walk (or even mountain bike) the rail line to Mono Lake. The railroad office structure, primarily its chimney, was destabilized by recent earthquakes. There are more than 100 other historic buildings remaining from Bodie’s tumultuous heyday.

This is HistoriCorps’ third year working in Bodie State Historic Park! We are very excited to continue doing the work necessary to preserve the Railroad Office and hope you can join the crew!

Scope of Work

Volunteers will work alongside expert field staff to learn the following skills. This project’s crew will work together to stabilize Bodie’s historic railroad office  so it can continue to contribute to the cultural landscape and serve as an educational and interpretive site. Sessions 1 & 2 feature heavy masonry work close to the ground; and Sessions 3 & 4 will include both masonry and structural timber repairs, working underneath the building. 

SESSIONS 1 & 2: 

  • Excavate to expose loose and failed stone foundation:  15%
  • Reset stone foundation:  20%
  • Lay brick wall on top of stone foundation to bring building back into alignment:  20%

SESSIONS 3 & 4: 

  • Replace structurally compromised sill plates and construct cripple wall:  10%
  • Repair wall framing, floor joists, and timber beam:  10%
  • Install siding:  5%
  • Protect building from future earthquake events by installing seismic retrofit ties:  5%
  • Re-lay brick patio:  15%

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Logistics & More

  • Read our Volunteer FAQ! If you still have a question that’s not answered there, above, or below, please email us at volunteer@historicorps.org. We’re always happy to help.
  • Each project session has one volunteer slot for a Kitchen Helper. If you’re interested in lending our Crew Leader & Camp Chef a hand in meal preparation, choose the “Kitchen Helper” position when you register. Kitchen Helpers are welcome to participate on the preservation work if they like, but are not necessarily expected to.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own tent (unless indoor lodging is provided), as well as sleeping gear and other personal gear including sturdy work clothes and work boots. Volunteers are also responsible for their own transportation to and from this project. 
  • All volunteers are required to review and agree to the HistoriCorps Waiver & Release and Code of Conduct during the registration process.
  • We help you prepare for your preservation project by providing a “pre-arrival packet” via email. The packet contains a lot of information like: logistics, safety precautions, a suggested packing list, benefits for volunteers, and more.
  • HistoriCorps projects are multi-day sessions, where you will develop your skills over the course of the session, as well as build camaraderie with your crew and make a significant contribution to the preservation of this building. We can only very occasionally accommodate volunteers who require a shorter session. Please email us at volunteer@historicorps.org for more information.

We are always ready to answer your questions. Once you register, expect us to be in touch a few times before your project begins to confirm attendance, offer advice, and share updates. Thank you always! Really, we can’t do it without you.

Register Online

Bodie Railroad Office, photographed by HistoriCorps Project Supervisor Kyle Bernard

Detail of work from the 2018 project, photographed by HistoriCorps Project Supervisor Kyle Bernard

Sunset over Mono Lake, photographed by HistoriCorps Project Supervisor Kyle Bernard

Bodie as photographed in September 2016 by Wikipedia user “King of Hearts”