Calico is a ghost town located in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California. Founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, today it is a county park. It is located in unincorporated San Bernardino County off Interstate 15, 3 miles from Barstow.
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.
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 and the “official state silver rush ghost town” of California.