Calico California – San Bernardino Count Ghost Town

Calico California is a ghost town located just outside of Barstow in Mojave desert of San Bernardino, California. The town began its like in 1881 when four miners from Grapevine Station (present day Barstow) began prospecting the “Calico Colored” mountains to the north east. The prospectors soon found the Silver King Mine, which was the largest producer of Silver in California in the 1880’s.

Calico California
Calico California

The prospectors were grubstaked by John C. King for whom the the Silver King Mine was named. John King also served as the San Bernardino County Sherriff from 1879 to 1882.  The post office is added to the town in 1882 along with the publishing on the newspaper the Calico Print which is published weekly. A typical assortment of business are started to support the mining efforts including three hotels, bars, brothels, boarding hoses, restaurants and a Wells Fargo office.

During the heyday, Calico boasted 500 mines, 3,500 townspeople, two constables, a deputy sheriff, two attorneys, two doctors and a boot hill cemetery. In 1890, the Silver Purchase Act drove down the price of silver and the decrease in profits made the town no longer economically viable. Future attempts at a rebirth and revival failed.

Miner and workmen crews at the Silver King Mine — in the Calico mining district, Mojave Desert, southern California.
Miner and workmen crews at the Silver King Mine — in the Calico mining district, Mojave Desert, southern California.

The town was purchase from Zenda Mining Company in 1951 by Walter Knot. It so happened, that Walter Knott was the nephew of John C. King and the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm. Mr. Knott invested over $700,000 restoring Calico in an attempt the create a road side attraction. Some of the original buildings are removed and replaced with facades similar in construction to a Hollywood set. Despite this fact, Calico played an important role and holds a special place in California history.

Calico Trail Map

Town Summary

NameCalico, California
LocationSan Bernardino County, California
Latitude, Longitude34.948889, -116.864167
Elevation2,285 feet
Post Office1882 – 1898
NewspaperCalico Print


One Reply to “Calico California – San Bernardino Count Ghost Town”

  1. Pingback: Ivanpah California - Destination4x4

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.