Calico is a ghost town and former mining town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region of Southern California, it was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and today has been converted into a county park. Located off Interstate 15, it lies 3 miles (4.8 km) from Barstow. Giant letters spelling CALICO can be seen on the Calico Peaks behind the ghost town from the freeway.
At its height, shortly after it was founded, Calico had a population of 1,200 people and over 500 silver mines. Besides the usual assortment of bars, brothels, gambling halls and a few churches, Calico also supported a newspaper, the Calico Print. In the mid 1890s the price of silver dropped and Calico's silver mines were no longer economically viable. With the end of borax mining in the region in 1907 the town was completely abandoned. The last original inhabitant of Calico before it was abandoned, Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane, died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the main museum in town. Calico was the first place where silver was found in California.
In 1951, Walter Knott, founder of Knott's Berry Farm, purchased the town and began restoring it to its original condition referencing old photographs. In the late 1950s, a western garbed man with Custer whiskers known as Calico Fred was a local fixture. Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others were recreated as replicas of their originals on preexisting foundations. In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and Calico became a county regional park.
Today, the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, a restaurant, the Calico & Odessa Railroad and a number of general merchandise stores. It is open daily, and requires an entrance fee. Calico is a registered California historic monument (Cal. Hist. Landmark #782) and the "official state silver rush ghost town" of California.
The town was the basis for the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition album The Ballad of Calico.
On their 2009 album Gutter Anthems Celtic Fusion band Enter the Haggis has a song about the ghost town called "Ghosts of Calico."
Children's author Susan Lendroth wrote a picture book, "Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog of the Mining Camps," based on the true story of a dog that carried mail between Calico and East Calico in 1885.
Filming location for the final scenes of "The Prowler" (1951), starring Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes.
- Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm
- Calico Early Man Site
- Official website
- Extensive information about Calico and surrounding area
- Extensive history of Calico