Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wild West Fest at Calico Ghost Town

After a somewhat longer than usual absence, I thought I'd restart the ol' Mythik blog with a little trip to the Wild West Fest at Calico Ghost Town. In light of the ongoing post-production of the movie Gold Rush, a weird west thriller written by yours truly, and an upcoming Steampunk project, I thought a visit to a Steampunk festival at a ghost town would be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Calico (the official state Silver Rush Ghost Town) is about 3 miles north of Barstow, CA. In it's heyday in the 1880s, miners in the Calico area worked 500 mines and dug up more than $20 million of silver. When the price of silver plummeted a few years later, folks moved away. Entering the "Bust" part of the typical "Boom and Bust" mining town cycle, Calico became a ghost town.

Click images for full size.

Fast forward over 50 years later, and Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm fame) restored many of Calico's buildings to bring back the Silver Age feel of the 1880s.

While its buildings don't have the more authentic "state of arrested decay" of its ghost town rival, Bodie (or so I'm told,) Calico still has a lot of interesting things to see.

A handy "portable" steam engine for all your mobile power needs.
The Wild West Fest's theme is "Where The Wild West Meets Steampunk!" and there seemed to be an interesting mix of Steampunk enthusiasts, old west re-enactors, and "normal" people who seemed surprised to find Steampunky paraphernalia in a ghost town.

Among the attractions was a Quick Draw competition.

The shootin' iron of choice seemed to be the trusty old Colt 45 "Peacemaker" six shooter.

I did break out the vintage 35 year old Russian Helios 58mm lens. It's not really an easy choice for "quick" action, due to its manual operation and narrow depth of field, but I got lucky with this shot. Wide open at f2, it has a unique and cool way of rendering the out of focus background.

Other attractions included Poplock Holmes the Gentleman Rhymer:
Poplock had a cool Steampunk-style rap to the tunes of a Theremin

There was a lot of interesting mining machinery, of course, and I did a little lens comparison test:
The picture above is with the 18-55mm kit lens. The image below is with the 58mm Helios. It blurs the background into an abstract mix of colors.

The only problem of the day was the fact that it was very hot, and Calico is built on a hill, which I must have walked up and down a couple of dozen times. So unfortunately I got worn out before I had a chance to get more pics of the Steampunk people. Oh well, there's always next year, right?

I was also lucky enough to meet the writer of Boston Metaphysical Society, a very interesting and cool graphic novel. Anything that has Nikola Tesla and Houdini must be awesome, right? When I got back home, however, disaster struck. I was fumbling with a ton of photography equipment (most of which I did not use,) and somewhere along the way from my car to my apartment, my newly purchased Boston Metaphysical Society books must have fallen out. When I later retraced my steps in an effort to find the missing books, they were gone of course.

All in all, it was a good little trip for a combination taste of the Old West and Steampunk style. And it was good to help me get into the groove for my upcoming Steampunk project which will feature a city in the sky, flying cars, mad scientists, crazy inventions, exotic martial arts, and the wickedest villainess you've ever seen ;)

I'll leave you with one last shot of the climactic shootout between the US Marines and the gunslingers of Calico.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can see more pictures on Facebook.