A reverend described Bodie in 1881 as "a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion." At its peak, the gold-mining town had more than 10,000 residents and 30 mines, as well as all the features of a Wild West boomtown: saloons, brothels, opium dens, gambling halls, and breweries. Hundred-gallon barrels of whiskey were rolled down the main street, where there were 65 saloons in just a mile. Street fights, shootouts, and killings happened on a daily basis, and the town earned a reputation for lawlessness and vice. The boom lasted just a few years, and by 1900 the town was in decline.
Devastated by multiple fires over the years, the town had only a handful of residents by the end of World War II. Two were killed in a crime of passion, three died of mysterious illnesses, and Bodie was officially a ghost town by 1950. A number of ghosts supposedly inhabit the buildings, and it is also said that anyone who takes something from Bodie — even a pebble — will be cursed with misfortune. Today, about 10% of Bodie's original buildings endure, largely unchanged, and visitors can see a logbook recording all the missing items people have returned to try to lift their curses.