Kurt Hildebrand

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November 16, 2012
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Minden couple writes Bodie Railway history

When Dick and Wanda Canton moved to June Lake, they started checking into the history of the Eastern Sierra.The Minden couple have owned a cabin in the village located near Mammoth Lakes for three decades.“We took a couple of classes in the Mammoth area and met a person who was a tour guide and professor of history,” Dick said.One of the field trips they went on was to Bodie, where they learned that the former mining town was home to a railroad, the Bodie Railway & Lumber Co. There’s a display about the railroad at the Douglas County Public Library in Minden.That’s when they and like-minded railroad fans formed the Friends of the Bodie Railway in the late 1990s. They explored restoring a section of the railway, but Dick said that was out of reach.Instead they started out by finding and restoring a flatcar that had been abandoned for 90 years.The restored flatcar now sits at the June Lake Marina. For their next project, the friends put up a kiosk with a pictorial display about the railway at the historic site of Mono Mills, located south of Mono Lake at the terminus of the railway.The Cantons spent the last few years compiling a book called “Bodie Railway & Lumber Co., Railroad in the Sky, 1881-1917.”The book includes the history of the railway, which stretched from Bodie south along the east side of Mono Lake and south across Highway 120.“We were concerned as a group that all this history is disappearing,” Dick said. “When the group suggested we do a book, we took the lead on it.”He said it took the couple 18 months to compile the book, and they’ve sold 1,100 copies so far.There are 120 friends throughout the U.S., consisting of Bodie, Eastern Sierra and railroad enthusiasts.Money raised by selling the book is going to the next Friends project, the restoration of the two-story building that housed the railway office in Bodie.“We met with Bodie State Park officials and we’re working with them and the Bodie Foundation for the support to restore the old railroad office on the bluff above Bodie,” he said. “We’re working toward opening that as a small railroad museum.”There are brochures at the Minden library with an order form for the book, which costs $25 for soft cover and $32 for hard cover editions, along with $5 for shipping. For more information, e-mail bodierailway@gmail.comDick and Wanda have lived in Minden for a dozen years, though they still have the cabin at June Lake.Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at khildebrand@recordcourier.com or 782-5121

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The Record Courier Updated Nov 16, 2012 04:55PM Published Nov 16, 2012 04:52PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.