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The Highest School in California

Bodie was known as a wild, rough, and rugged town, with many bad men and winters that chilled to the bone. Nevertheless, Bodie became the home to many children whose families followed reports of gold strikes. What were their lives like? What did they do for fun? How did they go to school?

At 8,369 feet above sea level, Bodie boasted the "Highest School in California.” The first public school opened in March of 1878. Bell Moore was the first teacher. She enrolled 10 students on the first day, and had 40 students by the end of two weeks. By the end of the three-month term, 76 students were enrolled, ranging from five to 17 years of age.

The original school building had a short life. A student who hated school burned it down. The second schoolhouse, which still stands today, began as the Bon Ton Lodging House. For 64 years the sounds of school activities could be heard coming through the cracks of the two-story structure. During its boom, the Bodie School District had 615 enrolled students! At that time, daily attendance was poor. Only about 117 students attended school each day. Why did so many children miss school? What activities do you think they participated in that may have kept kids from coming to class?

In 1943, the Bodie School District was suspended due to a lack of students. World War II had taken most people away from the town of Bodie.

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Interior Photo from the Bodie School House

Interior Photo from the Bodie School House

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Last updated: 10-23-2009